High achieving Latino students will debate issues and experience the complex world of government when they participate in the National Hispanic Institute’s 24th Annual Colorado Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session June 9-16.
The LDZ Youth Legislative Session, sponsored by and held on the Colorado State University campus, is a weeklong conference where students engage in a mock legislative process and judicial hearings that examine the assets of the Latino community and its trajectory.
Students representing California, Colorado, Missouri, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas, the territory of Puerto Rico, Mexico and the Dominican Republic will attend. The event gives high school sophomores and juniors a better understanding of community equity building and a chance to improve their skills in public speaking, organizational management and constituency building.
“The LDZ is a truly inspiring and thought-provoking experience that allows high school sophomores and juniors to engage in leadership and vision-building in a way that most of us do not get to experience until we are much older,” according to Jonathan Goode, program coordinator. “As an alumnus of the program, I can personally attest to the difference it makes in the lives of young people and how it propels them to not only be good citizens, but also to actively shape the society that we live in.”
The week features activities that include a general convention, speeches, legislative sessions, Supreme Court trials and committee hearings. Students will campaign for positions such as governor, lieutenant governor, speaker of the house, senator, attorney or one of nine Supreme Court justice positions. Candidates will make speeches before the delegation and work to build their constituencies. Each student must develop proposals that harness the talents and abilities of their community. Students present and debate the merits of their proposals before their peers and strive to have their ideas passed into law.
Colorado State University and the National Hispanic Institute have co-hosted this event since 1990. To qualify, students must have a 3.2 grade-point average or above and must be enrolled in a college-bound high school curriculum.
Ernesto Nieto, president of the National Hispanic Institute, founded the nonprofit organization in 1979 as a way to encourage young Latino students to enhance their leadership abilities and actively participate in the Latino community.