NHI Alumni: Gathering from RGV to NYC
After an active summer in which a number of NHI alumni played active roles in running summer programs, alumni groups are gathering (and planning to gather), as part of an ongoing effort to engage more NHI-affiliated professionals, which includes the move toward establishing 10 regional chapters.
The Rio Grande Valley NHI alumni most recently came together on August 11 in McAllen, bringing 22 alumni and guests together in McAllen, where preparations for a much larger alumni gathering are already underway.
“Since we’re hosting Celebracion this year, we want to get people aware that it’s coming here, to get them excited, and to get them interested in volunteering,” says Marisol Flores-Henderson, who participated in the RGV gathering.
“I think alumni events are important,” notes Vanessa Chapa, another participant in the RGV gathering. “This is giving us an opportunity to reconnect with the NHI family. And, since, we’re kind of widespread, taking 2 1/2 hours to get from one end of the Valley to the other, it’s nice to have this kind of platform to connect.” While at the meeting, Chapa (a speech and debate teacher and UIL academic coordinator at McAllen High School, named Teacher of the Year this past school year) connected with Armando Cano, who graduated from McAllen High in the 80s and was part of the Math Wizards team that she now oversees. She notes brightly, “We even had his polo shirt on display!”
New York City is also looking to connect its NHI alumni, with an event that Dan Tamayo and Michelle Laredo-Torres are working to coordinate. The event (on Sunday, Sept. 25 from 2-5 p.m. at Buffalo Wild Wings, 253 W. 47th) will seek to connect New York City-based alumni who can not only function as professional resources for one another, but to share the bond that NHI brings them.
“We are on a lifetime journey because of the things we experienced through NHI programs, and we want to get NHIers together in New York City because there is a commonality in our experiences that binds us together,” Tamayo says.
“It is virtually impossible to explain an LDZ to someone who has never been to a Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session,” he adds. “With fellow Alums, there is an instant comfort level because we do not have to explain. We know. It’s in our DNA, and it makes us part of who we are now. There is a camaraderie that comes from the experiences at NHI Programs that catalyzed a change in thinking, view, outlook, and paradigms for us. It’s cool to be around people who get it.”