Mexico students triumph at program for aspiring leaders from three nations
The GDx 4 program, which took place July 9 to 11, was the fourth and final 2021 program from the National Hispanic Institute focused on rising sophomores looking to improve their communication skills and raise awareness about Latino social issues.
Like other GDx programs, it brought NHI students into an online environment where they could work on both their speaking skills and a range of digital communications skills. But it was a historic and unprecedented digital version of the Great Debate tournament: The team comprised of students from Mexico won for the first time in the event’s history.
Three universities — CSU-Pueblo, University of California, Berkeley, and the University of St. Francis — served as the university hosts for the digital program, with State Farm continuing in its role as a principal sponsor for the Great Debate and GDx programs.
“This event was a testament to how important it is that NHI’s developing leaders for a true global Latino community,” said NHI Executive Vice President, Nicole Nieto. “Our ability to connect students digitally in this evolving GDx program really shone through, with students from the U.S., Mexico, Puerto Rico and Panama coming together to compete and start their NHI journey.”
The two project administrators guiding the Mexico contingent praised the students’ efforts.
“This team has been in the making for more than fifteen years!” said Choche Cruz. “Thanks to the digital element of the program, we had the opportunity to have participants from all over Mexico, under the same flag. Not only did our team learn and grow through months of training, we developed a bond that will last a lifetime. I cannot be more proud of Team Mexico! Los quiero mucho!”
Gaby Morales added, “Mexico has been a part of NHI’s history for a really long time and I think we all knew that forming a team for the four-day Great Debate was only going to be a matter of time. None of us were planning on 2021 being the year this happened, but when Choche and I were approached we ultimately decided to take on the challenge.
“And I can honestly say it was the best decision we could have done,” she added. “Not only did it allow us to work on something he hadn’t done before but it also allowed us to unify and consolidate Mexico as a region bringing so many new NHIers together and forming new bonds with staff members that had not had the opportunity to directly work so many other participants from Mexico. I am incredibly honored to continue being part of Mexico’s history within NHI and I can not wait to see what’s next!”
Most improved awards for each team
- Corpus Christi: Gabriella Perez, Roy Miller High School, Corpus Christi, Texas
- East Coast: Fernanda Cabrera, Oak Forest High School, Oak Forest, Illinois
- El Paso: Jennifer Chung, Loretto Academy, El Paso, Texas, and Sarah Gathers, Northwest Early College High School, El Paso, Texas
- México: Leslie Encartín, John F. Kennedy School, The American School of Querétaro, Querétaro, México
- Midwest-Colorado-Heartland: Jady Luis, Freedom Preparatory Academy Westwood, Memphis, Tennessee
- North Texas: Kailee Helms, John Paul II High School, Plano, Texas
- Panamá: Michelle Shaw, Academia Internacional Boquete, Alto Boquete, Panamá
Those acknowledged in the award ceremony for their performances in the tournament included:
- 1st Place: Julianna Steach, Manheim Central High School, Manheimand Adhy Agarwala, Regis High School, New York, New York (East Coast)
- 2nd Place: Mia Palacios, Colegio Americano de Torreón, Torreón, and Ana Paola Alba, John F. Kennedy School, The American School of Querétaro, Querétaro, México (Mexico)
- All-State: Sojung Kim, Veterans Memorial High School and Lillyana Saenz, Veterans Memorial High School (Corpus Christi)
- 1st Place: Genesis Mullins, South Valley Academy, Albuquerque, New Mexico (El Paso)
- 2nd Place: Sofia Avila, John F. Kennedy School, The American School of Querétaro, Querétaro, México (Mexico)
- All-State: Saúl Rodríguez, Oxford International School, Panamá, Panamá (Panamá)
- 1st Place: Natalie Flores, Eastlake High School, El Paso, TX (El Paso)
- 2nd Place: Will Qian, Coronado High School, El Paso (El Paso)
- All-State: Jenah Muriel, St. Jean Baptiste High School, New York, New York (Midwest)
- 1st Place: Dani Calero, Escuela Sierra Nevada Interlomas, Huixquilucan, México and Gerardo Calderón, PrepaTec Campus Estado de México, Atizapán de Zaragoza, México (México)
- 2nd Place: Jorge Acosta, PrepaTec Campus Estado de México, Atizapán de Zaragoza, México and Sophia Espinosa, Young Women’s Leadership Academy, El Paso, Texas (El Paso)
- All-State: Aoife Peden, John Paul II High School, Plano, Texas and Alondra Garcia, Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, Austin, Texas (North Texas)