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NHI kicks off 40th anniversary with energetic 2019 Texas Great Debate

Students take the stage for the opening to NHI's 2019 Texas Great Debate at Austin College
Posted: June 7, 2019 at 10:16 am   /   by   /   comments (1)

NHI’s 2019 summer programming launched on Thursday afternoon with the opening of the 2019 Texas Great Debate at Austin College. The annual rite of passage — celebrating 30 years of bringing top Texas students together — got off to an energetic start, with more than 300 students gathering for four days of competition and a quest for NHI’s fabled Silver Cup.

Chris Nieto, NHI Senior Vice President and the program’s co-Education Director, acknowledged Texas Great Debate’s role as a welcoming launchpad for NHIers.

“I have seen thousands of kids go through our programs, especially the first-time Great Debaters,” he said. “I want them to walk away knowing that they are part of a community that extends beyond their home regions. That they are part of a global community of NHIers, people who are committed to their success and their well-being. They have a home within NHI, and that they have the capacities to do great things.”

The students, between their freshman and sophomore years of high schools, have been preparing for the past several months, forming teams to represent Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, El Paso, Ft. Worth, Houston, the Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio, and Tip of Texas (Brownsville).

Kristina Tusini, the program’s other co-Education Director, pointed out that NHI’s mission is to “replenish the pipeline of leadership for the Latino community,” and was encouraged by what she initially was seeing in the 2019 participants.

The participating students were looking forward to the opportunity to grow and learn in the coming days.

Davin Peña, from Ray High School in Corpus Christi, noted, “I’m mostly looking forward to finding inner self confidence when it comes to speaking, especially in my event in Oratory. I feel that I used to be really scared, really nervous and timid at the beginning of the year, and with NHI, I grew out of that and became more self-confident.”

“I’m hoping to learn that it doesn’t matter if I win or lose,” said Lily Thorson from Ursuline Academy in Dallas. “It’s the preparation that got me here. And I’m hoping to understand other people’s perspectives and understand their sides and learn, so I can shape my own views.”

In addition to improving his preparation and public speaking skills, Vincent Le from Cedar Ridge High School in Round Rock (part of the Austin contingent) asserted he wanted to “learn from others about how they act and how they act in front of others.”

In the Sherman Herald-Democrat article on the 2019 Texas Great Debate, NHI Board Member and Dallas Project Administrator George Rodriguez pointed out that the recent successes of NHI alumni are inspiring a new group of students.

“We’ve got folks who were elected to Congress this year who were former members of the National Hispanic Institute, who started out in our program years ago as 15-year-old kids. So now that they’ve seen that, these kids are really starting to feel like they can make it there too.”

Hank Ewert, Director of Admission for Austin College’s Central Texas Regional Office, welcomed students to Austin College as part of the opening ceremonies event. He remarked, “Austin College and NHI share and live similar missions and commitments to do the essential work of educating and producing the next generation of enlightened, responsible, creative people with dedication to community and a strong moral compass.”

The 2019 Texas Great Debate continues through Sunday, and while many of the participants will go on to programs in subsequent summers, some will continue their NHI journey at the 2019 edition of Celebración, a collaborative competition which will be held in San Antonio this coming November.

This program is made possible in part by State Farm and Winston & Strawn.

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