Celebrating the accomplishments of more than 20 budding Latino and Latina leaders, André-Denis Wright, dean of Washington State University’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, joined students and mentors June 1 at graduation ceremonies for the newest cohort of the Latino Leadership Initiative (LLI).
Twenty-two graduates, all students attending Edmonds Community College, Skagit Valley College, and Everett Community College, crossed the stage, shook hands with dignitaries, and received recognition, some sharing stories of their growth as leaders who inspire their peers in the Latino community.
Roughly 12 percent of Washington residents is of Latino heritage, but Latinos remain largely underrepresented in leadership at all levels. Launched in 2012 to bridge gaps in civic engagement, LLI was formed by a coalition that includes WSU Extension’s Latino Community Studies and Outreach Program, the three community colleges, the Latino Educational Training Institute, Leadership Skagit, and other non-profit organizations.
LLI provides multicultural leadership training that targets Latino college students with an emphasis on multicultural skills and the Latino culture. Participants mentor middle- and high-school-age Latino students, growing their own skills as leaders while demonstrating the value of education.
Held at Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood, Wash., the graduation ceremony featured a keynote speech by Dean Wright and reflections by LLI participants, teachers, leaders and family members.
Introduced by WSU Extension educator and LLI instructor José García-Pabón, Wright shared his inspiring life journey and encouraged graduates to use their minds to solve challenges and make a difference.
“You are our future,” Wright told graduates. “I challenge each of you to use your education and your uniqueness to affect positive change. This world needs you now, more than ever.”
This year marks LLI’s seventh cohort of graduates, and is also the 20th anniversary of the co-founding Latino Educational Training Institute.
Learn more about LLI here http://pubs.cahnrs.wsu.edu/impact-reports/latino-leadership-initiative/
Learn more about Latino Community Studies at WSU Extension here: https://extension.wsu.edu/latinocommunity/