Our Latino Leadership Initiative Kick-off, held at Everett Community College's Jackson Center, on Saturday, January 7, 2017, was described as an inspirational and rewarding experience by all our LLI participants.
In their evaluations, the students not only praised the "great Mexican food" but they also described the presentations by our professional team of mentors, professors, legislators (and the "Harvest of Empire" Documentary) as eye-opening, riveting, essential new knowledge and insight they most certainly needed but had lacked.
With Dr. Jose Garcia-Pabón of Washington State University Extension as the Master of Ceremony, the morning began with a personal, heartfelt introduction by André Guzman, Associate Dean of Advising and College Success at EvCC, in which he described essential elements of a leader’s journey, his own path, obstacles to overcome and the high probability of a rewarding future, especially for college-educated Latinos.
Christina Castorena, Vice President of Student Services at EdCC, delivered an upbeat overview of the origins of the LLI program, followed by an insightful address by the City of Lynnwood mayor, Nicola Smith—both very strong supporters of the LLI Program and our Latino youth.
Next, a panel of elected officials offered insight into the most pressing social and political problems facing our communities as well as a compelling vision of their own personal path to leadership. Latino community activist Juan Peralez expertly moderated the panel that included Senator Maralyn Chase; former Washington State Legislature House of Representatives Velma Veloria and Luis Moscoso as well as the Lynnwood City Council Member, Shirley Sutton. Many students said that they were inspired by the words of encouragement they had received, at last they felt they belonged here in Washington and now felt an urgency to "get involved."
The impact of Dr. Antonio Sanchez’ stunning lecture on the "History and Contributions of Latinos in Washington State" also surprised and inspired our LLI participants, evoking some memorable comments, such as:
- "For me, the highlight of today is that I’m a part of Washington state, I am important."
- "I never knew that Latinos are part of Washington state history, that historically we changed our communities."
- "I am now motivated to become the future of Latino culture."
- "We are here to be part of the landscape, not to work it!
- "I can do and help more than I think."
- "Now everything is possible."
- "I am amazed to learn that many of us did not cross the border. We were here first and the border crossed us!"
Ultimately, we would like to offer a special thanks to Edmonds Community College President Dr. Jean Hernandez, who took the time and effort to attend and participate in the program for the entire day. We are all very honored and grateful for your support as we are for the mentoring and expertise of Leadership Skagit, Leadership Snohomish and our EdCC Coordinator, Diana Bustos.