Wayne State's fourth annual La Academia del Pueblo conference features world renowned Latino journalist and author of Harvest of Empire, Juan González

April 4, 2013

DETROIT— Wayne State University’s Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies, in collaboration with the Wayne State Graduate School, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, El Salón de Nuestra Cultura and the WSU Journalism Institute for Media Diversity, will host the fourth annual La Academia del Pueblo Regional Undergraduate and Graduate Latino/a and Latin American Studies Research Conference from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 20, at the McGregor Memorial Conference Center.

The theme for this year’s conference is “Shifting the Harvest of Empire: Sembrando Una Nueva Conciencia,” and it will feature a keynote address by world-renowned Latino journalist Juan González and poster board and panel presentations by students from six states representing more than 10 universities. Student panels address themes such as “Raices de la Raza: Representations of Self and Identity” and “The Branches of U.S. Globalization: Resistance to Imperialism at Home and Abroad.” 

Panel presentations also will be offered by faculty members and professionals in the fields of law, business, health sciences, STEM fields, the social sciences and humanities, in addition to panels presented by community leaders addressing Latino/a political and civic engagement. On April 19, the conference’s kick-off event will feature a screening of the film Harvest of Empire (based on Gonzalez’s book) at 6 p.m. in El Salón de Nuestra Cultura (150 General Lectures) followed by a discussion of the film facilitated by Wayne State University History Professors Francis Shor and José Cuello, and Regional Director of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Midwest, Rosa Morales.

Tamara Serrano Chandler, coordinator of the center’s College to Career (C2C) Program and conference organizer, said, “La Academia del Pueblo represents a deliberate effort to address low educational attainment among Latino/as by establishing important connections between the academy, the people and our communities here in Detroit and within the region while also fostering meaningful research opportunities.”

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, despite comprising the largest ethnic minority in the nation and the country’s fastest growing population, only 13.9 percent of Latino/a adults have college degrees, which is less than half the national average of 29.9 percent. And only 3.8 percent of Latino/as have an advanced degree, compared to 10.7 percent of whites and 6.5 percent of African-Americans.

The C2C Program aims to address the Latino/a educational attainment gap by increasing graduation rates for WSU’s students using a multifaceted approach that combines career mentorship, community-based research and service-learning; participation in the annual La Academia del Pueblo conference; as well as professional development and graduate school preparedness, which helps bridge the gap between the academic and professional worlds.

This year’s conference will also feature a combined undergraduate poster session with a diversity career expo, which has attracted the participation of companies and community agencies including Ally Financial, Inc., Matrix Human Services, Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“The conference is a great opportunity for us as students to partake in research,” explained CBS Scholar, Melissa Lopez, a third-year majoring in occupational therapy.

Arturo Trafny, a fourth-year double-majoring in political science and international studies with a minor in Spanish, said, “It has guided us in learning how to do [research] properly, present it successfully to a formal audience, all the while making connections with the community.” 

For further information about the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies’ La Academia del Pueblo Conference and the C2C Program,, please visit  or contact Tamara Serrano Chandler at 313-577-4378 or

Wayne State University is a premier urban research university offering more than 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 29,000 students.