A Summer to Remember

This summer I participated in a weeklong leadership conference in Sacramento conducted by the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project (CLYLP). CLYLP was founded in 1982 “with the primary purpose of preparing students to participate in California’s economic, social, and political development.” CLYLP’s mission is to “enhance and build the leadership potential of California’s youth, to build communities, and create a stronger more prosperous state and nation.” CLYLP is run by volunteers who dedicate time and energy to make each one of its four leadership institutes amazing. I was fortunate enough to be one of the 120 students selected to attend the weeklong conference held on the Sacramento State University campus.

During the drive to the conference, I sat anxiously awaiting my arrival, excited to begin an experience that I expected to be wonderful. It proved to be greater than I could have imagined. Once I arrived at the Sacramento State dorm where I would spend the week, I was warmly greeted by the excited and energetic peer counselors who cheered as they welcomed each participant who walked through the entrance. Throughout the week I got to know each of the 120 participants who each had a different but important story to tell the world. 

I spent most of my time getting to know the 10 high school students in my small group or “familia” as well as my facilitator and peer counselor. We all shared stories about where we came from, the hardships and the successes we have experienced, and what it is like to live today in California. The conference participants came from high schools all over the state, from north of Sacramento, through the Central Valley to Los Angeles and south of San Diego. In a week I was able to make friendships that I know I will cherish forever. During the conference we participated in activities focused on one or more of the Four Cs: Community, College, Career and Culture. We met with and heard from college admissions officers, lawyers, university professors, the Mexican Consul General (Liliana Ferrer), and the many volunteers who make CLYLP possible. We enjoyed amazing performances by Teatro Izcalli, Ballet Folklorico CLYLP, a traditional Aztec dance group, and a “Jarocho” musical group. 

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We learned about how young people like ourselves have positively impacted the history of our community including the 1968 protests and walkouts in Los Angeles. We also actively developed our leadership skills. For example, we organized and held a mock election where our “familias” selected and campaigned for their candidate for president of a mock high school. 

We also spent an entire day at the State Capitol learning about the responsibilities of a state assembly wo/man and the legislative process. During Capitol Day we held a mock hearing to discuss currently proposed bills and voted on them from the floor of the State Assembly.  

This weeklong experience was far more life-changing than I envisioned it would be. I met and networked with over 120 students, professionals and volunteers that all wanted to create change and make a difference in the world. We shared and supported each other, and we are proud of who we are and where we come from. We came together and inspired one another to voice our opinions because we are “California’s Future Leaders.” I asked each member of my "familia" what they enjoyed most about the conference and there was a clear common answer—the people we met that made it so unique; being surrounded by 120 focused and driven students was empowering and motivated us to take a leadership role to build and strengthen our communities. CLYLP was an experience that has left a lasting impact on me, and I plan on volunteering with the organization to help future students realize their own power and potential to impact our world today and in the future. Lastly, I want to share with my SHC community a phrase we used during the CLYLP conference, it is a call for all of us to actively engage and participate in the world around us – “Stay Loud, Stay Woke.”

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