Con Mi MADRE and Project MALES host Leadership Summer Camp at UT

Eilish O'Sullivan

Two organizations promoting higher education for Latinos came together for a four-day Leadership Summer Camp at UT this past week.

The event was hosted by Con Mi MADRE and UT’s Project MALES for the very first time July 19–22. Con Mi MADRE stands for Mothers and Daughters Raising Expectations and helps Latina girls and their mothers prepare for college and beyond. Project MALES stands for Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success and is a mentoring program for young men of color. The campers were 6–12 graders from schools across Central Texas. 

“This camp is all about leadership and showing these girls that it’s important to be a leader and bring your friends up,” said Katherine Guillory, Con Mi MADRE intern and social work graduate student. “Because when you learn together, you grow together and you lead together.”

Elizabeth Lopez is a seven-year member and success student of Con Mi MADRE, which is how the group refers to members who go on to college.

“I feel a sense of family and friends here (because) our stories are all really similar,” Lopez said. Lopez is a sophomore studying international relations at Texas State University.

Lopez said that the organization helped her go to college and get involved with volunteer work. She now gives advice to other girls at the camp.

“(I tell the girls to) keep your head in the game and stay motivated,” Lopez said. “Also, to be strong when people put you down.”

One of the girls Lopez gives advice to is Marley Rodriguez, a 12-year-old at the camp. Rodriguez said that her favorite part about the camp was the speeches from community leaders.

“I learned more in depth about leadership and how to relate that to college and what you want to do,” said Rodriguez, who wants to attend UT or Harvard to study architecture.

Camp activities include creative writing workshops, documentary filmmaking tutorials, discussion groups, documentary presentations and competitions, a “‘90s Old School” dance party at the Student Activity Center and a concert at the School of Social Work’s Utopia Theater.

The children get to stay overnight with their family members at Jester Residence Hall. The camp is free for participants and is supported by The Kresge Foundation, The Alice and Michael Kuhn Foundation and Austin Independent School District.

“Together, we can help our students develop their leadership and resiliency skills to achieve academic and personal success,” Project MALES director Emmet Campos said in a news release.