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‘You are our future’: Dean celebrates 2019 Latino Leadership grads

Group photo of LLI graduates, mentors and dignitaries, some holding flags.
Celebrating dozens of new graduates of the Latino Leadership Initiative, WSU Extension educator José García-Pabón and CAHNRS Dean André-Denis Wright, seated at left, join Diana Morelli-Klima, Director of the Latino Business Retention and Expansion program at the Skagit Economic Development Corporation; Rosario Reyes, President of the Latino Education & Training Institute; and Betty Koteles, Edmonds Community College Latino Outreach Specialist, and other partners and allies June 1 at Edmonds Community College.

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/

Ivan hugs Betty Koteles at the podium as Dr. Wright watches, smiling.
LLI graduate Ivan Garcia shares an embrace after receiving his certificate.
Rios, speaking animatedly at the podium.
Emcee and WSU alumna Karla Rios shares her positive experiences with LLI.
Group photo.
The Gonzales family poses with their LLI graduate, Joe.
Wright, seated.
André-Denis Wright, Dean of CAHNRS, seated in the audience.
Singh, speaking with a microphone.
Dr. Amit B. Singh, President of Edmonds Community College, congratulates LLI graduates.
Garcia-Pabon at the microphone.
WSU Extension educator José García-Pabón introduces Dr. Wright.

Grad holding folder and Dominican Republic flag

Group photo of grads and program leaders.