Reaching NHI Graduation Day: Why LDZ and CWS are must-do programs
National Hispanic Institute senior vice president Julio Cotto has seen the transformational power of Great Debate programs for students over the years. But he’s also seen students who are unsure whether to move on to the Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session and Collegiate World Series programs — and who experience much more transformation once they complete their second and third years.
“I think that the Great Debate, as high impact as it is, as transformational as it is … sometimes you’re just getting your rhythm going and you’re getting comfortable and competing and being at the mic — and then it ends,” he pointed out. “The LDZ’s longer, so you really get a more robust, fuller experience, especially when it comes to meeting that social element of NHI. You’re going to meet more people, you’re going to be spending more time with them, so it’s a little bit more intensive.”
“The LDZ also really puts you in a position to apply your Great Debate skills,” he added, noting that the diverse mix of voices and discussion of concepts “adds a complexity that’s more like leadership in real, adult life, versus the Great Debate which is still a little bit more controlled.”
NHI executive vice president Nicole Nieto adds, “The LDZ program is a crash course in protocol, procedure, and formality to achieve next-level results with your ideas.”
Cotto notes that CWS is where leadership actually becomes more realized for students, with NHI’s highest level of leadership ideas featured in the program. (And, of course, you can’t officially graduate from NHI’s leadership programs without completing the CWS.)
“I think kids leave LDZ with all these thoughts, all this inspiration, all these million miles of thinking. CWS is where you get to expose yourself to a process of thinking, [asking] ‘How do I now take these ideas in this vision and put them into action?’ And whether it’s ‘this is the right school for me’ or ‘this is the environment I need to be in for four years’ or maybe ‘this is the path I need to take for my education beyond my major.’ But then also this is a leadership process of ‘I got my skills introduced and sharpened at Great Debate, at LDZ, they were widened, my network is now huge, I’m inspired or motivated, I want to be a leader — how am I going to do it though?'”
Nieto observes, “The life lessons of the CWS help students hit their target goals and accelerate the pace in which better decisions are reached. Participants learn to discard time and money wasters for projects with better prospects for success.”
“I love seeing NHIers on graduation day at the CWS,” Nieto adds, “wearing their cords, receiving their diplomas, and watching them cross the stage. I know — as does our faculty — that completing all three programs is the ultimate accomplishment for an NHIer, because they are all challenging.”
Cotto also sees different experiences possible with the different LDZ and CWS programs being offered in 2023, providing exciting choices for students – once they commit to the LDZ or CWS – to determine which particular program will best serve them.
For LDZers, the choices are:
- Colorado LDZ, Colorado State University, June 18-25, 2023
- American LDZ, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, July 9-16, 2023
- Texas LDZ, location to be announced, likely to be July 16-23, 2023
There’s also a New Mexico LDZ experience from June 11-18 exclusively, as it was in 2022, for high school students in New Mexico.
The American LDZ experience, new to NHI in 2022, included a field trip to Washington, D.C. that made it much richer and vibrant for the students — and Cotto believes it can be even better in 2023, with NHI looking to connect with public officials able and willing to meet with students, as a number of them did this past summer. The St. Mary’s campus offers students what Cotto remarks is “like a historical colonial settlement,” bringing elements of the South and the mid-Atlantic states into an experience like nothing else NHI will be offering.
The Colorado LDZ program, hosted by longtime NHI partner Colorado State University, offers what Cotto characterizes as “the human experience and the closeness of that program,” helping students build bonds in a way that’s made it the most popular of the current LDZ programs. (Cotto notes that the temperate weather and mountainous setting makes it additionally appealing.)
For CWSers, the choices are:
- Rocky Mountain CWS, University of Denver, June 26-30, 2023
- Texas CWS, University of St. Thomas (Houston), July 26-30, 2023
Cotto points out that both universities are in vibrant, urban settings, and because they’re located in hub cities served by numerous airlines, “It’s going to be easy for college coaches to get there” as well as students, making for a richer CWS experience with more diverse representation. “We already have colleges that are starting to sign up, and I think by the holiday break, we’ll be able to announce at least half of the lineup of colleges that will be there to coach students,” Cotto noted.
Students ready to commit to crossing over can go to the NHI site and register. The regular admission deadline for 2023 programs is Friday, Nov. 11, 2022.