Reseda High School

Reflection: Takeaways from the Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute

111 Reflection: Takeaways from the Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute

This past summer, I was one of the few lucky individuals who participated in this year’s Youth Leadership Institute at USC. The Youth Leadership Institute (YLI) is a four-day, overnight, college empowerment conference for Latino rising seniors. Hosted by the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, it aims at empowering Latino students, many of which who are also first generation. This conference equips students with the knowledge and resources to successfully complete a higher education. With this said, about 150 young Latinos arrived at the YLI, and about 150 leaders left from it.

The Youth Leadership Institute gave many of these young Latino leaders the practical tools they need to successfully apply to top universities. After many workshops, students surely could guide one another through the college application/admission process. Attendees who participated in these college and career workshops at USC took away four important pieces of advice that can benefit any high school student:

1. Put on your own oxygen mask first

What does this really mean? In simple terms, if you don’t put on your own oxygen mask and take care of yourself first, you won’t be able to take care of others. Sometimes it’s difficult to resist our natural tendency to help others first because we are loving, responsible, and kind people by nature. However, the oxygen mask metaphor teaches us students that we need to take care of ourselves first before we can help our friends and especially our family. Besides, taking care of yourself is not selfish because you’re simply considering your needs as a priority.

2. Try pistachio ice cream

Many times, people will not try pistachio ice cream, simply because it looks weird. Likewise, some students will opt-out of joining a class, simply because it seems too “hard.” Although you may not like the ice cream, in the end, it is always good to try different things and get out of your comfort zone. Many times, one’s college experience revolves around personal exploration. Being able to thrive outside of your comfort zone is crucial to not only your college years but your career beyond college.

1113 Reflection: Takeaways from the Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute

3. Network, network, network, and…… Network!

yli 2 Reflection: Takeaways from the Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute
The Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute organized students into familias, where students and their mentor encouraged and supported each other to learn and go beyond their comfort zone.

The reality of the world is that “who you know” does matter. That is why networking is an important skill regardless of the profession. However, obtaining an opportunity through networking is only half the battle, especially since an opportunity only continues to exist if you prove yourself to be worthy. At the Youth Leadership Institute, students were given business cards and taught how to properly introduce themselves through an elevator speech. All students nowadays should be able to present themselves in a professional matter in order to network with professionals.

yli 1 Reflection: Takeaways from the Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute
The Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute organized students into familias, where students and their mentor encouraged and supported each other to learn and go beyond their comfort zone.

4. There’s really nothing stopping you from reaching your dream school if you dedicate your efforts to it!

Throughout the program, students were encouraged to pursue their dreams, regardless of any setback they may be facing. Students were taught that through financial aid options, college may be easier to access than previously taught. Students learned to avoid being sticker-shocked and being deterred from their dream college simply because of the price. There is always help out there and no one should be afraid to ask for help. Lastly, students became aware that they should shoot for the moon, because even if they miss, “you’ll land among the stars.” In the spirit of these young leaders, students should remind themselves que,

“Si se puede!”

1 Comment

  • Reply Douglas Campbell October 31, 2017 at 6:50 am

    Congratulations. A few comments: Your dichotomy relating to “Put on your own oxygen mask first” is a false one. When you confront injustice, it will never be just for yourself — you will always be confronting it for a large group — of which you are but a single member. Indeed, that’s a transcendent message — do for others as you would have them do for you. When you love self over others, you have a weak point which will become readily apparent. Self-love should be equal to love for others.

    Second, if you go to any good college, you will find that there are what are called “breadth requirements” — and among them is the REQUIREMENT to try the pistachio ice cream. Whatever you major in — you will need to take classes outside of your major in order to meet these requirements. If a college doesn’t have a breadth requirement, it’s not a good college — it’s as plain as that. So by all means, try the pistachio — it’s been put out for a reason. And any college which says you don’t have to is not a good choice.

    Third, your idea of “networking” is somewhat a selfish one — it’s there with “put on your own oxygen mask first”. Having a good resume is part of preparing for the world after college, where you will have one page of virtual paper in which to show to people who do not know you why you are the best person they could hire for the job you desire. Of course, your college essay will be that as well. But even better is, as I pointed out above, that the person who does their best to advance the group will in the end do the best they can to advance themselves. When we rate people in my industry (I am 65 years old, and have worked at the same company for 36 years), we do what’s called a 360 — and that means that your peers can rate you, your boss can rate you, you can rate you, your subordinates can rate you, and, in some companies, subcontractors with whom you interact can rate you. So, how do you get the highest rating? It’s not only by building a way of talking about what you’ve done (although that’s an important aspect of rating — if you can’t speak for yourself, you’ve lost a major advocate). No, it’s about making the other people with whom you interact love that interaction and expect that the best quality will come of it, and want to say that in their ratings. My company is not alone in this regard.

    Your fourth point is spot on. However, always have a backup plan for your big dream. It can be another big dream or a smaller one, but it should always place you in line to achieve your ultimate big dream.

    Good luck — or, rather, may those who rate you rate you well.


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