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Hispanic Baptist Youth Day bridges gap between Baylor, cultures

Sept. 23, 2003

By Amy Leigh Washburn, reporter

More than 800 Hispanic youth gathered on Saturday afternoon under a huge green and white tent at Floyd Casey Stadium's Touchdown Alley.

Junior high and high school students poured in from Victoria, Galveston, Lufkin, Houston, Waxahachie, San Antonio and several other cities throughout Texas for the first Hispanic Baptist Youth Day, which was sponsored by Baylor Youth Programs.

'I really want kids to step up both spiritually and in education,' Daniel 'Tiny' Dominguez, associate pastor of Iglesia Bautista Getsemani, said. 'Hispanics are the biggest minority group, and I want them to step up and be examples, not victims.'

The gathering kicked off at 2 p.m. with a campus rally and tour of Baylor. After the tour, the youth went to Touchdown Alley where True Vine led them in worship, and Dominguez gave an inspirational message.

'It doesn't matter who you are, where you're from, or what you've done,' Dominguez said. 'It matters what you let Christ make you.'

After Dominguez's message, participants ate pizza and mingled before going to Baylor's football game.

Patty Villarreal, a consultant for the Baptist General Convention of Texas, came to the event with high hopes.

'We wanted to bring students to campus and show them that school is doable,' Villarreal said, ' ... and what Baylor says to me today is 'not only do we want to be a part of thwarting the drop-out rate, but, also, that we think college is possible.''

While seminary students signed churches in and passed out football tickets, Student Foundation members stood nearby to answer any questions the teenagers had.

The Hispanic Student Association also participated in the event. More than 20 students met at Wiethorn Information Center to guide tours of Baylor.

John Salazar, chaplain of HSA, felt the day was a 'wonderful success.'

'It's great to see young Latino minds come together to be a part of this,' Salazar, a San Antonio senior, said. 'Seeing [diversity like] this makes me glad I came to Baylor.'

Some participants in the Hispanic Baptist Youth Day events said they thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

'We were very excited to get to have something for Hispanic Baptist youth,' Imelda Alcala, a sponsor from Iglesia Christian Fellowship in Carrolton and Baylor graduate, said

Alcala attended Baylor in 1978 and 1979 and said that she was in culture shock when she came back to Baylor for Hispanic Baptist Youth Day.

'I couldn't handle the cultural transition to Baylor ... it wasn't as diverse back then,' Alcala said.

The diversity has improved drastically, Alcala said. She brought her four children to the events and said that she knows if her kids choose Baylor, they will have a much easier time than she did as a college student.