(UPDATE Jan. 7, 2016: CYC registration closed)

(UPDATE Jan. 29, 2016: Fresno State T.O.R.T.I.L.L.A. to perform “Chicano Crisis Hotline.” )

Fresno State English professor and award-winning author Alex Espinoza will be the keynote speaker at the 43rd annual Chican@ Youth Conference on Saturday, Jan. 30.

The conference will be from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. in the Satellite Student Union (2485 E. San Ramon Avenue). It is sponsored by the Office of Outreach and Special Programs and co-sponsored by student organizations and campus programs.

alex-espinoza HS crp


Middle school, high school and college students from across the Central Valley are invited to attend the event free of charge by registering online. The deadline is Jan. 15. Lunch is provided.

The theme for this year’s conference is “Crossing Borders/Building Bridges — Empowering Students through Education and Conciencia.” Workshops will be held on the topics of cultural awareness, leadership and career guidance, pursuit of higher education and social justice.
Fresno State performance groups Los Danzantes de Aztlan, Teatro TORTILLA and the Aztec Dancing Club will provide live entertainment.

Espinoza is the author of two novels published by Random House: “Still Water Saints” (2007) and “The Five Acts of Diego León” (2013). He received a 2009 Margaret Bridgeman Fellowship in Fiction to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, a 2014 Fellowship in Prose from the National Endowment for the Arts and a 2014 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation for “The Five Acts of Diego León.”

Born in Tijuana, Mexico, and raised in Los Angeles, Espinoza earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Riverside, and his Master of Fine Arts from the University of California, Irvine. Espinoza is also a visiting professor at California State University, Los Angeles.

He serves on the board for non-profit organization California Humanities and mentors first-generation college students in their transition to a university as part of the Puente Project.

The conference was started in 1973. The first planning committee included then-student Frances Pena-Olgin, who is now the director of the sponsoring office, University Outreach Services. She also served as conference chair in 1979, the first year the event received institutional support and funding from Associated Students, Inc. Pena-Olgin will retire this month after a 36-year career at Fresno State.

“The Chican@ Youth Conference has become a Fresno State tradition that Chicano students throughout the Valley anticipate each year,” Pena-Olgin said. “Many students who have graduated and embarked on successful careers credit the conference and its many speakers with motivating them to get a higher education. Many of them also return as speakers to give back that motivation to new students every year.”

Among those who have attended over the years include a Hanford High School teen in the early 1980s, Joseph “Joey” Castro, who went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science, a master’s degree in public policy and a doctorate in higher education policy and leadership from Stanford University. In 2013, past CYC participant Dr. Joseph I. Castro became the first Latino president of Fresno State, appointed by the California State University Board of Trustees.

The CYC is co-sponsored by student organizations MEChA, Teatro TORTILLA, Lambda Theta Phi, Club Austral, Aztec Dancing Club and Chicano Writers and by University programs the Dream Outreach Center, Upward Bound, the Graduate Studies Division, College Assistance Migrant Program, Women Studies Department, Chicano and Latin American Studies Department, the Pathways/MEP Program and the Latina/o Faculty Staff Association.

For more information, contact Jesse Farias at 559.278.2653 or at jfarias@csufresno.edu, or Walter Ramirez at 559.278.5347 or wramirez@csufresno.edu.

(Participating students are encouraged to post their photos with #CYCfresno. The public can follow social media coverage on Twitter @FresnoStateCYC and on the Latina/o Faculty and Staff Association at Fresno State Facebook page: bit.ly/LFSA-CYC16pics).