The University of New Mexico presents Destino Universidad, a free bilingual town hall conference for middle and high school students and their families to learn about college preparation, financial aid resources and more, on Thursday, May 24 from 5:30 to 9 p.m. in the UNM Student Union Building ballrooms. Free parking is available for the event.

Veronica Mendez Cruz, director, El Centro de la Raza, is working with College Board to bring Destino Universidad to Albuquerque. She said that the Albuquerque Public Schools and CNM are also participating. "The pathway between APS, CNM and UNM is critical to many students," Mendez Cruz said.

Maria Corral, associate director of Latino Communication, College Board, said that the event helps them and higher education institutions to identify students for recruitment. "We also help students and their families select and look at ways to fund a college education as well as making college career choices," she said.

Pizza will be served at 5:30 p.m. so that participants can come in, grab a slice and get down to business. Workshops will be provided in English and Spanish, with information on gaining entrance into a college or university. "Financial aid and admissions are included, but so is information about how students even in middle school can prepare to come to college," Mendez Cruz said.

After the workshops, participants will return to the ballrooms to hear testimonials from APS, CNM and UNM students and others. They will also be encouraged to fill out a survey.

"To entice people to stay until the end, we have two baskets we're giving away. One is full of CNM materials, the other full of UNM things," Mendez Cruz said. Tickets to Verenazo, a summer event, set for Sunday, June 10 at Expo NM, will also be given away.

Corral said that the face-to-face aspect is important for Latino families. "Many of the families are off line. Destino Universidad is an opportunity for us to develop relationships with the schools, which help us to engage families."

Corral said that Destino Universidad is taking place in large, but not the largest Latino markets.

Destino Universidad is a collaborative effort among universities, colleges, school districts, community-based organizations and media outlets to provide Latino families with college planning resources and promote a college-going culture. Through its "Es el momento" campaign, Univisión has mobilized its affiliates to support and promote the tour.

"We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with the College Board's Destino Universidad. We know that it is extremely important for parents to be informed about incredibly beneficial and free resources and programs available in our community for their children," said Ivelisse Estrada, senior vice president of corporate and community relations, Univisión Communications.

Spanish story version: Foro para Planificación Universitaria Llega a UNM

Media Contact: Carolyn Gonzales (505) 277-5920; e-mail: cgonzal@unm.edu