Through a partnership with the National Hispanic Institute, approximately 150 high school sophomores and juniors are participating in the Colorado Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session through a mock government and electoral system. This will be CSU’s 26th year hosting this program with NHI. The program seeks to have high-achieving youth understand organizational culture, protocol and procedure in order to become more effective community leaders. LDZ 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.
Attendance spans numerous states including Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Texas, as well as delegates from Dominican Republic. The session features activities including a general convention, electoral 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, and for 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 harnessing the talents and abilities of their community through the theme, “Envision the Future.” Students present and debate the merits of their proposals before their peers, attempting to get their ideas passed into law.
“LDZ is hard to describe. So many things come to mind at once – the friendships, the hardships, learning experience. LDZ is mentally demanding and it challenges you to think like you never have before,” said Kathia Castro,a current CSU student and LDZ alumna. “You are immersed into a room full of the brightest Latinos in the US, and it’s in the middle of the hectic-ness of running your own legislative session — it’s in the middle of the near tears from not being able to pass your proposal in the Senate, or being on a serious time crunch to write your debate to present to the Supreme Court Justices — that you realize that even in the madness of it all you can thrive, that you are confident, that you are capable. LDZ doesn’t make you this, it merely opens your eyes to let you see that you have been this all along; you just hadn’t realized it.”
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. Several statewide partners like CSU’s Alliance Partnership, hosted through the Access Center; the Poudre School District; the Colorado GEAR UP; CollegeTrack in Aurora; as well as other university partners like New Mexico State University, New Mexico Highlands University and University of New Mexico played a role in identifying students.
Anyone is welcome to observe the LDZ Youth Legislative Session in action during the following times:
- Welcome Address & Opening Ceremony: 9-10 a.m. Wednesday, June 24, CSU Lory Student Center North Ballroom
- Closing Ceremony: 3:30-4:30 p.m. Friday, June 26, CSU Lory Student Center North Ballroom
- Final Supreme Court Trial: 6:30-8 p.m. Friday, June 26, CSU Lory Student Center North Ballroom
- Awards Ceremony: 6-8 p.m. Saturday, June 27, CSU Lory Student Center Theatre
For more information about the program, contact Connie Jaime-Lujan via email or phone at (970) 491-4035.
Written by Connie Jaime-Lujan.