2021 National Convention
November 2021 brought about the most magical time of the year for SHPE. From November 10 – 14, we saw our mission blossom in a way we’d never seen before.
After going completely virtual in 2020, SHPE leadership carefully considered how to handle our 2021 Convention with the safety of our membership in the forefront of our minds. We were optimistic that the timing of our gathering would give our attendees ample time to access vaccines and track efficacy rates across our nation. And as our event date neared, we felt comfortable moving forward with an in-person Convention, keeping strict COVID Safety Protocols and partially virtual options in place.
So, on November 10th, the Orlando Convention Center opened its doors to nearly 5,500 members of the Familia. It was a joyous reunion, to say the least. Although masks were everywhere, and chairs were arranged in compliance with social distancing standards, it was the life-changing and industry-shaking experience we’ve come to expect.
Of course there were some notable changes and additions. There was a new agenda flow with the Career Fair occurring on Thursday and Friday. Each day required morning reservations to enter the Exhibit Hall in order to keep capacity down and support a safer environment for all. We also held a Virtual Career Fair for those companies and students who felt more comfortable interacting in that manner, giving everyone a fair chance at career advancement and access to top Hispanic STEM talent.
The Pre-College tracks for high school students, parents, and STEM educators stayed completely virtual. And the Competitions were also virtually held leading up to Convention. However, the winners were announced onsite in a new Awards Ceremony to provide a popper in-person celebration.
As far as new offerings go, a Lifetime Member Lounge was sponsored for the first time ever. And the inaugural Professional Hospitality Suite gave our Professional members a chance to meet recruiters looking for a casual networking opportunity.
Our General Session included an inspiring keynote from 4-time Olympian, Ruben Gonzalez. And, in another first, we ended the Convention with a closing celebration, Una Noche Encantada, that saw the dance floor hopping all night long.
While some things were certainly different, in all the important ways, the Convention was exactly the same. It was a magical gathering of the Familia – bridging the gap between Hispanics and STEM one student, one session, one award at a time.