BOISE — An annual career conference aims to inspire the next generation of Hispanic leaders in healthcare and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.
“This year from the technology side we have a surface scientist from Micron, who graduated as mechanical engineering from Boise State. We have another individual who graduated from Boise State as a civil engineer but is an Ada County Project Supervisor. Really we are trying to let students know by the people that we bring in- just because you’re going into engineering you might not necessarily be an engineer you might be something that is affiliated with engineering as a profession,” said Luis Caloca, College of Western Idaho Director of Admissions and One-Stop Operations.
Caloca is also one of the co-founders of Future Hispanic Leaders of America. FHLA, along with the College of Western Idaho, Community Council of Idaho and Department of Labor, will present the 7th annual Hispanic Healthcare and Technology Careers Conference virtually. Caloca said most of the speakers are part of the LatinX community.
“Always try to do something a little different. We had chiropractors, we've had a cardiologist. Really specific career type professional so that people can- they don’t necessarily know what does this particular degree translates to. That’s what we are trying to expose them to in this conference,” Caloca said.
Maya Correa said attending previous conferences helped her find her passion.
“It really just build up my confidence to talk about things. I ended up going to the University of Utah and finished my degree this past summer. My undergrad degree in health and society policy,” Correa said.
A study released by the Student Research Foundation shows there will be 10.6 million jobs in STEM by 2028. The demand to fill those positions will be there, but right now Hispanics only make up eight percent of the STEM workforce. A 2021 report from the Idaho Commission on Hispanic affairs found that Hispanics were most likely to work in manufacturing, education, health, and social assistance jobs.
“We are severely underrepresented in areas such as any of the STEM fields,” Caloca said. “We’re hoping that by presenting this types of opportunities to students connect with an individual that in many instances has a very similar back story to your own. You can find someone that can possibly serve as a mentor and at least inspire you, motivate you to take that additional step to continue in post-secondary education.”
The Hispanic Healthcare and Technology Careers Conference will take place on March 3 from 8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. The virtual event is free and you can click here to register.