Student-led event encourages potential Cougs

KYLEE METER | Evergreen reporter

Ninety Asian and Pacific Islander high school students from across the state visited Washington State University to attend a three-day, student-run conference encouraging them to pursue higher education.

The annual Shaping High School Asian Pacific Islander for the Next Generation (SHAPING) Conference, which took place this weekend, is a leadership session geared towards networking and providing resources to students.

High school attendees have the opportunity to receive early notification of acceptance to Washington State University, according to the SHAPING website. Two students also received the New Heights, New Hopes scholarship next fall.

“They are the very first students to get admitted to WSU for the year,” said Nana Meach, team leader and former attendee.

The Pullman campus conference, led by current WSU student volunteers, conducts campus tours and workshops focused on teaching students about leadership, admissions, financial aid and Greek life.

“The workshops let the students know that team-leaders are here as resources and that there are a lot of people here supporting them to follow their dreams,” Meach said.

The students also attended a banquet Saturday night with a talent show, awards ceremony, dancing and a keynote speaker.

This year’s keynote speaker, WSU alumnus Jonathan “Jon Jon” Augustavo, is an award winning music video director who has worked with artists such as Macklemore and Allen Stone.

Augustavo can get on a personal level with the students and inspire them to pursue higher education, Meach said.

Students and volunteers sported Superman style t-shirts throughout the weekend to promote this year’s theme, “superheroes.”

“We want to advocate for the hero behind the mask, being that person who influences, who has that strong based opinion, who’s able to change someone’s life,” conference co-chair Allen Manipon said.

While the conference is based on identifying leadership, the main focus is that a higher education is attainable despite coming from a low-income family or being a first-generation college student.

“Post-high school for these students is going to be a time when they are still in the process of deciding if college is right for them, but we’re more advocating for the fact that anyone can go to college,” Manipon said.

The conference provides support during the transitional time between high school and college.

“I want students to take away that they’re not going to go through the process of getting to college alone, knowing that they have those connections,” co-chair Brenda Lopez said.

The first conference in 2000 hosted about 23 students, a decade later there was about 150 attendees and 14 students received advanced notification of admission, according to the SHAPING website.

With the continued help of ASWSU and student volunteers, the SHAPING team hopes to see the number of attendees grow in the future.