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      Hispanic students get push to pursue higher education

      High school students from across the Panhandle attended Los Barrios de Amarillo's Step Up To Success conference Wednesday morning.

      For more than 30 years, the conference has given students the opportunity to learn about the choices they have when it comes to getting a college education.

      "What I think is the best benefit of this is that the students are put in front of business professionals in their community," Los Barrios de Amarillo Vice President John Salazar said. "I think one of the goals is that we create that mentor/mentee relationship."

      Business professionals involved in law, health, media and law enforcement spoke with the students about their jobs and the paths they took to obtain them. And some other help was given to some students, as well.

      "Last year, we gave out 17 scholarships and we mentor those kids that we give scholarships to because we want them to be successful," Los Barrios de Amarillo President Zeke Castro said. "So, yes, they have a few more barriers, but we try to help them."

      Those working the conference pointed out that seeing familiar faces and hearing stories similar to what they have experienced helps the students to press forward in reaching goals, and to realize other people have been where they currently are.

      "I was one of these students. I was a recipient of Los Barrios de Amarillo," Potter County Commissioner Mercy Murguia said, "and I feel like I am certainly a product of the work that happens here today. So, it's very heartfelt for me to not only be the speaker, but to speak to students in a season of my life that I was at and not that long ago."

      Murguia spoke to the students about her personal struggles and how she came to hold a public office. And she assured them there are ways to get help, ways to make it to college and ways to be successful while doing it.

      "It's not a big secret- we are the majority. It's not a secret that our culture has to be educated to not only perform for business sectors that come in, but continue to give back to generations that come."