LDZ Youth Legislative Session marks 30th year June 16-23

Group photo of 2018 LDZ participants

Colorado State University’s LDZ class of summer 2018

Colorado State University will help inspire top Latino high school students for the 30th year in a row when it hosts the Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session June 16-23.

It’s a program that’s helped launch the careers of people like U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was the secretary of state for the 2009 and 2010 sessions at CSU.

Plans call for showing a personalized video message from Ocasio-Cortez at a 30th anniversary dinner on June 22. Ocasio-Cortez recounted fond memories of her time at CSU during a chance meeting between the congresswoman and a CSU student who was a guest of U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse at the State of the Union address in January, according to Connie Jaime-Lujan, associate director for university access and success in the Access Center at CSU, which hosts the LDZ conference.

About LDZ

The National Hispanic Institute — celebrating four decades of developing high-performing Latino high school students into leaders through an innovative, immersive learning experience — will bring approximately 150 students from Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Texas, Puerto Rico and Mexico to the Colorado Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session on campus.

The Colorado LDZ program has been an annual rite of passage for top Latino students between their sophomore and junior years of high school. Students form their own political parties, run for offices, and participate in a legislative session lasting three intense days and nights.

The LDZ is the second part of a three-part series of summer programs designed by NHI for high school students who have high potential to become leaders within the U.S. and global Latino communities.

Observers welcome

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

  • Welcome Address & Opening Ceremony: 9-10 a.m., Wednesday, June 19, CSU Lory Student Center North Ballroom.
  • Closing Ceremony: 4-4:30 p.m., Friday, June 21, CSU Lory Student Center North Ballroom
  • Final Supreme Court Trial: 6:30-8 p.m., Friday, June 21, CSU Lory Student Center North Ballroom
  • Colorado LDZ 30th Celebration Dinner & LDZ Awards Ceremony: 5:30-8:30 p.m., Saturday, June 22, CSU Lory Student Center Grand Ballrooms

Longest partnership

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. “We have a long and incredible history in working with Colorado State to develop Latino leaders,” said Nicole Nieto, NHI’s executive vice president. “We’re grateful to the university for all it’s done and all it continues to do.”

NHI reports that 98 percent of its students enter college, and 90 percent receive college degrees within five years. But the program is focused on much more than higher education, treating college as only one step towards principled leadership thinking about the Latino community and the development of its assets.

Immersive-disruptive learning

It’s a forward-looking program that NHI President and Founder Ernesto Nieto has said is geared toward what communities throughout the Americas will need in the decades to come. NHI has developed the concept of immersive-disruptive learning — a self-directed, student-centered learning method that encourages critical thinking and challenges society’s assumptions and conventions — to provide both a complement and contrast to the education students experience during the school year.

“For 40 years, NHI has challenged Latino students to fulfill their potential as leaders, to make their communities self-sustaining, and to honor their history and heritage as part of their measure of success,” Nieto said.

While some NHI alumni have gone on to high-profile political leadership positions — including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Xochitl Torres Small, two members of the 2019 U.S. Congress freshman class — many choose to lead as business professionals, educators, entrepreneurs and members of the nonprofit sector.

‘Governance’ theme

The LDZ introduces students to core NHI concepts and helps them develop collaboration and public policy skills. All of this year’s programs will focus on the idea of governance. Governance — not to be confused with government or governing — is the process of having a voice and role in the rulemaking of a body. While it does exist in government, it also exists in companies, on boards and even in families. Nieto believes it’s vital for young Latinos to familiarize themselves with the concept of governance as they make more opportunities for themselves to lead.

“We’ve reached the time and place in our history as a Latino community, particularly due to the growth in our population, our increased rates of graduation from college, our growing professional sectors, that we are now in the position to have greater presence at the governance levels of society,” he said. “I think it’s important for young people going into this new era to have a core concept of what governance means.”

For more information about NHI, its programs, and its new path for developing leaders, visit www.nationalhispanicinstitute.org/. Questions can be directed to Connie Jaime-Lujan at Connie.Jaime-Lujan@colostate.edu.

This year, LDZ alumni will join new participants in a variety of events June 21-22 to celebrate the 30th anniversary. The schedule is below.

Friday, June 21

8:30 – 11 a.m. | Golf Outing & Lunch | City Park Golf Course

6:30 – 8 p.m. | Final Trial | Lory Student Center

8:30 – 10 p.m. | Alumni Reception | University Club, Lory Student Center

Saturday, June 22

10:45 – 11:30 a.m. | CSU Campus Tour | Allison Hall

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. | Lunch | CSU Dining Hall

1 – 4:30 p.m. | LDZ Alumni Conference | Lory Student Center 

4:30 – 5:30 p.m. | Break

5:30 – 8:30 p.m. | Colorado LDZ 30th Celebration Dinner & LDZ Awards (RSVP required, email Connie.Jaime-Lujan@colostate.edu| Lory Student Center

9 – 11 p.m. | Alumni Reception | Longs Peak Room, Lory Student Center