NHI Alumna Embarks on New Leadership Journey
Nancy-Yasmine Galvan remembers her first NHI experience, as part of the Houston team attending the 2010 Texas Great Debate. “At that point in time, public speaking was really the one thing that I was uncomfortable with,” she recalls.
Not only did she overcome that through her Great Debate experience, but she learned very important lessons throughout her participation in the Great Debate and the 2011 National LDZ – about listening, networking, and a range of entrepreneurial skills – that will be put to a remarkable test over the next two years.
Galvan is one of 30 high school and college students nationwide who was selected in January for the current State Farm Youth Advisory Board. The two-year commitment to the Board includes a series of training sessions that commence this weekend, a series of meetings this summer, and continued volunteer work throughout the duration of the program.
The Board is put in charge of a $5 million grant program for service-learning projects addressing five issue areas: arts and culture, environmental responsibility, community safety and justice, economic empowerment and financial literacy, closing the achievement gap, and health and wellness. “The Board determines where that money goes,” explained Kelsey West, who acts as a liaison between the Youth Advisory Board and State Farm in her role as Youth Advisory Board Coordinator. “They present ideas on what they think will make the most societal impact, they vote on those ideas, and they make those decisions.”
One example of a program might be, in response to obesity, to launch and sustain a community garden in a particular city. Money would be granted by the Board for the supplies needed to start the garden, and through the work of students in service learning programs at local schools, the garden would be planted, tended to, harvested, and then replanted.
Each individual grant can range from $25,000 to $100,000, West said, with the amounts depending on the scope of the project, the advocacy of the YAB member proposing the grant, and how the board votes.
Galvan learned about the program through a Facebook ad, and her first question was, “I’m 20 – do I still count as youth?” Indeed, she did – as the program allows students 21 and younger to apply – and as she happened upon the ad the day before the program application deadline, she spent the entirety of the deadline day on it.
Galvan is no stranger to hard work – she works two jobs to help support her in school, is working toward a business major at a four-year university (she’s currently at Lone Star College’s Cy-Fair campus), and is aiming to be an entrepreneur. She also wants to help future generations get out of the cycle of living paycheck-to-paycheck, and is looking to eventually create a non-profit organization that addresses financial literacy.
For now, though, she’s focusing on the upcoming training, and building upon what she learned as an NHI student. “I feel like a lot of this work will be about knowing when to listen and knowing when to speak. This is something NHI helped me become comfortable with, and it’s a big part of being more focused on community.”