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LDZ, NHI Programs

2017 National LDZ overcomes grounded plane as students reach new heights

Students at 2017 National LDZ
Posted: June 30, 2017 at 11:04 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

The 2017 edition of the National LDZ (Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislation Session), at Elmhurst College, has been memorable for all its participants — but especially for 45 Rio Grande Valley students who thought that their grounded plane would keep them from the first day of LDZ activities.

As Ramon Martinez, from IB at Lamar Academy in McAllen, Texas, elected President for this LDZ, explained, he and his fellow RGV students almost didn’t make it to the event the first day. He was part of the student group whose Southwest Airlines flight, going from the Valley to Chicago via Houston, had mechanical issues and was initially cancelled. “I thought I’d be late and wouldn’t be able to meet as many people,” he said — a concern for LDZers, as socializing and forming groups is an essential part of the exercise. Southwest, realizing the magnitude of the situation, ended up locating a plane that could not only make the trip, but would skip the Houston leg of the trip and fly the students directly to Chicago.

That allowed Martinez to transcend what he thought his week would be.

“My expectation in coming to LDZ was to be part of the crowd,” he noted, “but after becoming President, my expectation for myself had changed.”


Sydney Ramon, a Cabinet member from McAllen Memorial High School in McAllen, Texas, was also temporarily kept from the LDZ proceedings. What she saw once she got amidst the students surprised her.

“At the start of this LDZ experience, I expected to take on more of a leadership role. Where I’m from, I take a lot of leadership roles there. But here, it’s interesting to see how everyone’s like me. They take initiative.” She noted that she’s learned that even outside of one of the program’s top leadership roles, that she’s been able to affect change.


“No matter how small you think your job is, you’re a part of something so much bigger,” she added — though she had a unique role as the only female member of the cabinet. “We’ve able to compromise and make decisions,” she noted of her group, “that have affected the whole LDZ, but for the better.”

The week-long program will culminate with awards on Saturday night, which will also be held in tandem with a gathering of Chicago-area NHI alumni.

This program is made possible in part by sponsorship from the Roy G. Kerr Foundation and Union Pacific.

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