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Greater Dallas Region of NHI hosts 5th annual L.E.A.D. Talks this Saturday
The 5th annual edition of the Sam A. Moreno L.E.A.D. Talks, an annual tradition that is part showcase (for Greater Dallas Region of National Hispanic Institute students) and part telethon-styled fundraiser (tied to this year’s Change a Life Campaign), will take place this Saturday, March 2, on the SMU campus. It will be livestreamed from the NHI of Greater Dallas YouTube Channel, from 9 am to 9 pm.
According to Greater Dallas Co-Project Administrator Mariah Morales, L.E.A.D. Talks “is a 12 hour long ‘telethon’ where individuals have the chance to view and listen to our talented group of high school students lead and discuss panels, via livestream, about important topics that affect today’s youth, our country and our Latino community.”
Morales adds, “Our panels are focused on ideas, assets, and innovation within our community, in which our panelists are asked hard-hitting questions while developing their critical thinking skills and building upon their community investor mindsets.”
The event, named in honor of NHI Hall of Fame recipient Sam A. Moreno, is an important preparatory step for freshmen preparing to represent Dallas at the Texas Great Debate, but involves students at all levels of the leadership program. It will also include a panel involving NHI President and Founder Ernesto Nieto, NHI Board of Directors President Michelle Saenz-Rodriguez, and NHI Board Member and Greater Dallas Co-Project Administrator George Rodriguez.
L.E.A.D. is an acronym for Leadership, Education, Achievement and Development, embodying the essence of what the event is intended to be for its participants.
“It is one of the new recruits’ first exposures to NHI ideals at work,” said Fabián Valerio, a junior at the School for the Talented and Gifted at the Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Magnet Center in Dallas, Head Coach for the Dallas Alliance, who participated in the Texas Great Debate in 2017, California LDZ in 2018, and Celebracion 2018. “Within NHI, we expect that all of our actions reflect what sets us apart from every other organization. One of those ideals is the concept of self-sufficiency. This fundraiser is self-sufficient in that what we get out, is thanks to what we put in.”
While fundraising is an important element of the event, it’s also a foundational intellectual exercise for Dallas-area NHI students.
“It’s more than just a fundraiser,” said Sarah Sandoval, a junior at School for the Talented and Gifted at the Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Magnet Center and an alumna of the 2017 Texas Great Debate and 2018 California LDZ. “It’s an annual event in which students are able to openly express their thoughts, ideas, and beliefs on topics that are relevant in our community today. L.E.A.D. is one of the many opportunities that allows students to engage themselves in deeper thinking and vocalize their own views.
According to Anthony Saucedo, a junior at Bishop Dunne Catholic High School and a veteran of the 2017 Texas Great Debate, 2018 California LDZ, and the two most recent Celebracions, the L.E.A.D. Talks “provide our recruits with a platform to demonstrate their debate skills as well as a platform to share their opinions on important topics and ideas that leave lasting impacts on our society as a whole. It sets the standard of complex thoughts and solutions that will be expected throughout their NHI experience.”
“Each year, the L.E.A.D. Talks differ because with new recruits comes a wave of new perspectives and opinions, brought forth by a variety of principles and experiences,” Valerio noted. “The L.E.A.D. Talks discussions allow for an environment in which intellectual friction thrives because of the meeting of these distinct perspectives.”
Though this year’s L.E.A.D. Talks is keeping to its established format, Valerio adds, “Something we are doing different this year is including many different faces in our panels who come from various places. We are anticipating a greater number of panels which include more than our recruits and staff. We are hoping to bring in parents, Latino leaders from Dallas, a school principal who has supported NHI for years, and even a current Texas state representative! I hope that by bringing in these new faces we can further enrich this diverse environment and really get the wheels turning in our recruits.”