CSU hosts LDZ Youth Legislative Session, inspiring top Latino high school students

Latino high school students attend the LDZ conference at CSU

As part of its ongoing mission to educate the next generation of Latino leaders, the National Hispanic Institute will be bringing about 150 students from seven states and Mexico to Colorado State University for the annual Colorado Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session, June 17-24.

The Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session (known as the LDZ) is designed for high school students with the potential to become leaders within the U.S. and global Latino communities. The program introduces students to core concepts in governance, public policy formation, and community themes, as well as helping them to develop public speaking and teamwork skills.

“While all NHI programs disrupt the way a student traditionally learns, the LDZ program does so most dramatically,” said NHI president and founder Ernesto Nieto. “Participants learn the principles that are core to community leadership, and begin to understand that it’s more about knowing how to engage people in pursuit of a common cause than it is about having a title or status.”

Principled leadership

Though NHI notes that 98 percent of its students enter college, with 90 percent receiving college degrees within five years, the program is focused on more than higher education. College is only one step toward what NHI promotes as a principled leadership thinking about the Latino community, which emphasizes changing from within and developing the community’s assets.

It’s a forward-looking leadership program that NHI president and founder Ernesto Nieto notes is geared toward what communities throughout the Americas will need in the decades to come.  The program utilizes what NHI terms immersive-disruptive learning, a self-directed, student-centered learning method that encourages critical thinking and challenges society’s assumptions and conventions.

“We continue to be proud that Colorado State University has the longest-standing partnership in higher education with the National Hispanic Institute for the Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session,” said Connie Jaime-Lujan, associate director for University Access and Success in the Access Center at CSU, which hosts the LDZ conference. “This collaboration reflects our sustained mutual commitment to developing successful Latinx leaders. We value LDZ’s program emphasis on establishing strong analytical and intellectual skills students need for successful high school completion and college enrollment. LDZ transforms high school students in eight short days, and helps them to find their voice and place as leaders in their communities and envision themselves on a college campus like CSU.”

“We’re proud to partner with Colorado State University to build our community’s future leaders from throughout Colorado and beyond,” said NHI Executive Vice President Nicole Nieto.  The university’s contribution helps students learn invaluable life lessons that they forever carry with them. CSU’s hospitality and commitment to the LDZ gives these students clear advantages in college and in life.”

Read more stories related to CSU’s Division of Enrollment and Access.

About LDZ

The Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session was first held at the Texas Capitol over two days in 1982. In 1983 the program expanded to work with a statewide audience and it was lengthened to eight days. By 1990, the program was operating in three states and today is housed at six different locations.

The LDZ program is named after the first provisional Vice President of the Republic of Texas, Lorenzo de Zavala, who was also a leader for democracy and liberty in both Mexico and the United States.

The Colorado LDZ has been co-sponsored by Colorado State University and the National Hispanic Institute since 1989 and is the longest partnership in program history.

Community members are welcome to observe the LDZ Youth Legislative Session in action during the following times:

  • Welcome Address & Opening Ceremony: 9-10 a.m., Wednesday, June 20, CSU Lory Student Center North Ballroom.
  • Closing Ceremony: 4-4:30 p.m., Friday, June 22, CSU Lory Student Center North Ballroom
  • Final Supreme Court Trial: 6:30-8 p.m., Friday, June 22, CSU Lory Student Center North Ballroom
  • Awards Ceremony: 6-8 p.m., Saturday, June 23, CSU Lory Student Center Theatre

The program is made possible in part by sponsorship from DishLATINO and Union Pacific.

For more information about NHI, its programs, and its new path for developing leaders, visit https://www.nationalhispanicinstitute.org/.