Leaving a Legacy: Students gather for Texas LDZ on NHI’s birthday week
Victoria Holmes, a University of San Diego student at the National Hispanic Institute’s 2019 Texas LDZ program, filed this report from St. Mary’s University, where students are developing their leadership skills this week.
The 2019 Texas LDZ had another successful kick-off at St. Mary’s University on Sunday. The campus welcomed 166 students from a variety of backgrounds, representing four different states and four different countries. Participants already had an exciting week ahead of them, but the added anticipation of NHI’s 40th birthday at the start of their own program energized them and inspired them to give it their all.
The participants’ performance showed the results of a foundation that has spent the past four decades cultivating young leaders — and they did not disappoint. Day 1 of the program had students jumping to the mic, communicating issues affecting the global Latino community.
They discussed a range of topics ranging from personal (derogatory names they’ve had thrown at them in school) to political (the current debates over detention centers in South Texas for refugee seekers). They were articulate in their viewpoints and discussed solutions to combat many false images of their community. Cecilia Deleon-Wilson from Round Rock High School in Austin, Texas, serving as a Senator at this LDZ, didn’t know what to expect the moment she stepped foot on campus.
“Everyone was nervous, everyone was scared, because we had no idea what was going on,” she observed. “But everyone I talked to was willing to listen to me. And I was willing to listen to them. I have never felt this way in any other place. I’ve never felt this safe to speak my mind, and I think that’s really important to NHI and what it means to be NHI.”
Energized by the discussion, and motivated to represent such a powerful community, participants spent Day 2 running for legislative positions. With passion in their voices and solutions to share, many stood in front of the delegation and campaigned. At the end of the day, everyone left the congregation with the final results, some saddened and some ecstatic, but not one leaving with regret. Day 3 allowed participants to build upon the momentum to craft their legacies
Sabrina Metzger, from Coronado High School in El Paso, Texas, serving as an Attorney at this year’s Texas LDZ, didn’t let the election results dissuade her. “I didn’t get the position I necessarily wanted, but I definitely got the position I needed, because in the end, it proved to me that I can do so much more than I think I can in only three days. So, now it’s about having a positive attitude about everything, because I did it at first and now I’m having the best time that I could have ever had.”
There are still a few days left in the program, but many participants have appreciated the tremendous amount of growth they’ve experienced in just a few days. With the celebration of NHI’s 40th birthday and the discussion surrounding legacies, House Representative Trinidad Perez IV, from Central Catholic High School in San Antonio, Texas, is inspired to continue that legacy. “It’s working with communities,” he observed. “It energizes me to hear us talking about communities.”
At the end of the week, these participants will graduate from the program, but they will each leave with a legacy. Each participant has a unique definition for his or hers, but it all falls under NHI’s impact, having young, motivated, forward-thinking individuals to one day lead and represent the Latino community.