Expanding from an all-female to a co-ed format, the Santa Monica College Latino Center will sponsor its 18th annual Youth Conference Saturday, March 31st.

The free event — officially called the Latina/o Youth Conference — is currently accepting registrations.

The conference — which will be held from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Santa Monica College, 1900 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica — is open to Latino and Latina high school students.

Slated for the day will be workshops, a Career and College Expo, peer panel discussions, keynote speakers, food and entertainment.

The conference attracts as many as 600 attendees each year.

“The number of young Latino males in higher education has dwindled,” said Maria Martinez, SMC Latino Center program leader.

“We have more young Latino men in prison than in college,” she asserted. “We need to reach out to them.”

The keynote speaker is Yvonne DeLaRosa, a film and television actress whose credits include such shows as CSI: Miami, Shark, The Closer, The King of Queens and Judging Amy.

At the expo, attendees will have the opportunity to speak to representatives from several colleges and universities, including UCLA, University of California at Santa Cruz and Santa Monica College as well as to Latinos and Latinas currently working in a variety of professions.

Pre-registration and information, www.smc.edu/latinayouth conference, LYC_Info@smc.edu or (310) 434-8520.

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