HALO escapes Kansas

Students Travel to Hispanic Heritage Conference


Photo Courtesy of Susana Carrillo

[Left to Right] Clemente Rojo, Israel Banuelos and Adrian Torres grin in front of the Chicago Bean after a long morning of workshops and conferences. Rojo said, “It was a nice experience as president to connect with our fellow members on a deeper connection that you don’t experience in so short of time at our meetings on Wednesdays.”

Throughout the halls of Seward County Community College, there are hidden gems of activities to do and clubs to join. Whether it is finding a passion in book clubs, scholars bowl, or even clubs like HALO. The Hispanic American leadership organization is just one of the many clubs on the SCCC campus that is purely dedicated to teaching students leadership skills. 

HALO is a student ran organization by current president Clemente Rojo, vice-president Israel Banuelos and many other students; along with Frances Brown, an English instructor who serves as the club’s sponsor. 

Rojo said, “We are a very diverse social and cultural club on campus that works to promote future leaders and helps raise educational achievements within students with a diverse background.” 

A lot of the time, students are surprised to find out that this club is not only for Hispanic and Latino ethnic students. 

“Don’t be fooled by the name. We are a diverse social group that accepts anyone into the club. We all continue to grow together as an organization developing social skills, leadership skills and mostly giving back to our community here in Liberal,” said Rojo. 

In addition to attending the USHLI conference, HALO club members Adrian Torres, Israel Banuelos, Clemente Rojo, Alexandra Arinaga, Susana Carrillo, Judith Soto and Denisse Delgado also got to enjoy other extra-curricular activities that helped build team bonding. The students posed relieved to have successfully completed their escape room challenge. (Photo Courtesy of Susana Carrillo)

Adrian Torres, an architecture major, decided to join HALO because it was a great opportunity to not only meet new people but also a way to feel represented and “have a voice in the world.” He realized that HALO has taught him about the importance of being “aware and learning about our culture. Things like what it really means to keep my heritage alive and continue to pass it onto my kids in the future.”

Thanks to HALO, students receive many different and exciting opportunities to travel and listen to a lot of multicultural speakers. Rojo mentioned that the primary incentive behind these traveling opportunities is to “promote and encourage us to seek more than what is expected in our very own cultural background, to exceed the status quote.” This is what the students focused on when traveling to Chicago this year.

“We attended the 40th USHLI national conference [United States Hispanic Leadership Institute]. I liked how there was a wide range of speakers ranging from anywhere the United States Secretary of Education [Miguel Cardona] to a radio host and content creator [Edgar “Shoboy” Soleto],” Susana Carillo, an accounting major, grinned as she gushed about her fun time in Chicago. 

As they [the guest speakers] spoke of their experiences and how they got to where they are now, it made me feel really empowered and represented,” said Carillo.

While in Chicago, other students along with Carillo mentioned that they really enjoyed the experience of learning from others who were involved in the same organization and leadership clubs as well.  The students learned about people skills, empowerment and overall about how the HALO organization continues to help students. 

The itinerary for the students in Chicago was flexible so they had the opportunity to join a variety of different “encouraging workshops,” that would help “promote a greater impact on furthering education.” After a morning filled with growing opportunities academically, students were able to enjoy their time together doing touristy activities.

Before takeoff, the HALO students had to drive out from Liberal to Kansas City, MO where they then were able to fly out. Torres said that although it was his first time on a plane, he was also nervous because he had never been to a big city like Chicago. He had his friends Clemente Rojo [behind] and Israel Banuelos [ in the black hat] with him on the plane ride. (Photo Courtesy of Adrian Torres)
“We got to explore the city and went to some touristy spots … went shopping and ate a ton of delicious food,” said Carillo. 

While some of the students enjoyed the trip itself, students like Torres’s favorite part of the whole trip was the new experiences such as, “the plane ride. It was my very first time on a plane.”

While Chicago, is only one of the many trips this club on campus takes part in, HALO also is a part of different activities here on campus such as the Blood Drives and Hispanic Heritage Month.

“We encourage students to join HALO, as we are a very welcoming and are a humble group of students who want to seek more and encourage one another to be greater and develop better skills for the real world… We have fun meetings that include games, movie nights and prizes. We welcome anyone with any background and encourage everyone’s input on events and just overall want to bring the best out in everyone,” said Rojo.