2017 Colorado LDZ commences at Colorado State
Nearly 150 students from six states (Colorado, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wyoming) and Mexico have convened at Colorado State University in Fort Collins for the 2017 edition of the National Hispanic Institute’s Colorado LDZ (Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session) — the first LDZ of the year.
Of the current NHI host institutions, Colorado State University and NHI enjoy the longest-standing partnership between a higher education institution and a NHI program, dating back to 1990. Connie Jamie-Lujan, associate director for the Access Center at CSU, which hosts the LDZ conference, notes, “This collaboration reflects our sustained mutual commitment to developing successful Latino leaders. We value LDZ’s program emphasis on establishing strong analytical and intellectual skills students need for success in college. LDZ transforms high school students in eight short days, and helps them to find their voice and place as leaders in their communities and on a college campus like ours at CSU.”
Top office holders at this year’s LDZ include Noor Mohamed, from Arlington, Texas, who was elected as Governor; Jerson Cerna Sanchez of Fort Collins, Colorado, who was elected as Lieutenant Governor; and Josue Estrada, of Aurora, Colorado, who was elected as Speaker of the House.
Mohamed says of her experience so far, “It’s been a little bit tough, because it’s a really long process and there are a lot of people to work with, but I’m taking each day as a new learning experience.” She noted that she is best enjoying conversations with her cabinet, and feels that the program will give her “a new perspective . . . to look on the positive side of things, and to see something that’s great, and to build off of it and do more of it.”
Alejandro Cantu, this year’s Pro Tem of the Senate, described his first few days as “rewarding but stressful.” He notes that the program is allowing him to “be a better speaker, even more so than I was,” adding he has “matured more in four days here than I have in maybe over a year of school.”
David Ruybal, who attended the Colorado LDZ as a student in 2014 and has staffed it every year since, says, “I continue to come back because there’s something from seeing the growth and the difference in participants from when they walk in that door to when they walk out. That’s just so amazing to me, and it’s unforgettable, and I try to recreate that for people as a staff member.”
This program, made possible in part by sponsorship from DishLATINO and Union Pacific, continues through Sunday.