Sometimes the most amazing moments happen spontaneously.

This was the case at the 10th Annual LAUP Youth Leadership Conference.

The day began with keynote speaker Shake Senghor, author of New York Times Bestselling book, Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison. Senghor’s message about the power of human will to set one’s life on a positive course hit home for many. Seven-hundred students sat on the edge of their seats giving their full attention for the duration of Senghor’s talk.

Students then scattered for their various sessions, including workshops on topics such as relationships and navigating the path to college. Other activities included the Life Store, where 8th grade students engaged in a large scale simulation similar to the popular game of Life. And, while these 8th grade students learned about the often tough realities of life, high school students explored potential careers grouped by the five career paths outlined by the State of Michigan.

For ten years, the conference has aimed to inspire students to believe in themselves, to provide tools for navigating higher education, to cultivate growth as leaders, and to develop pride in their culture.

Spontaneity came into play at the end of the day, when it turned out that students arrived at the closing general session about 20 minutes earlier than expected.

To fill time, committee member Israel Ledesma, came up with the idea of playing popular Latino dance music over the sound system. As soon as the music started, hundreds of students poured onto the gym floor and began dancing in a beautiful celebration of their culture.

Spontaneous dancing provided a powerful lesson that Latinos have every right to be proud of their culture and to bring their unique love of life to their communities’ schools, workplaces, and gathering places.

Browse photos from the conference on our Facebook page thanks to Salazar Photography:

If you’d like to be involved with the 2019 LYLC, feel free to contact us by emailing