Strategizing. Negotiating. Public Speaking. All are tools of today’s leaders, and all soon will be in the toolbox of five University of Houston students traveling to the Harvard/John F. Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Mass. They’ll spend June 8-15 there to participate in the “Latino Leadership Initiative.”
The “Latino Leadership Initiative” was developed by the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School in 2010 when elite students from across the country, including six from UH Center for Mexican American Studies (CMAS), participated.
“A good leader is one who brings his group to a brighter future,” said Arturo Garcia, a junior majoring in construction management-business. “A leader is one who promotes well-being and always puts the interests of others in front of his own.”
All students were selected through a competitive process that included academic merit, leadership skills and community involvement. They’ll spend the week participating in sessions such as “Leadership: Organizing People, Power and Change,” “Strategizing I: Tactics and Timeline,” “Public Speaking” and “Negotiating.”
“I feel very honored to be given such a great opportunity,” said Brenda Franco, a junior majoring in art. “I hope that I can come back with a new set of skills and ideas that will showcase my leadership.”
Part of the program requires that participants create team-based community service projects that will enrich their community and spotlight their leadership skills. Participants will spend a year developing and implementing their projects.
Franco and Garcia will be joined by:
*Hannah Do, senior/biology major
*Johan Casella, junior/business major
*Teresita Madero, junior/marketing major
“We will need many leaders in the very near future, and this program will drive the point home to the students,” said Tatcho Mindiola, professor and director of CMAS. “This is an opportunity for students to hone their leadership skills through study, discussion and listening to outstanding leaders from a variety of backgrounds talk about their experiences.”
Hannah Do and Johan Casella have been part of the CMAS Academic Achievers Program, which begins mentoring students in middle and high school and continues to guide them and their parents through the college experience.
Teresita Madero, Arturo Garcia and Brenda Franco have been assisted by the UH Challenger Program, which provides academic and personal counseling, tutoring and academic instruction, plus social enrichment and financial aid advising. The students say they’re hopeful this experience further hones their leadership skills and fuels their enthusiasm for their future professional roles.
“The traits that are held in a leader can be many but I think at the core it is to be self less.” Franco said. “Leadership allows us to rise up and pave ways for ourselves and others.”