Six Hudson Valley students were awarded $8,600 in scholarships at the 2019 Puerto Rican/Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute conference.

The scholarship winners were part of a 45-student delegation, the second largest, sent by the Hudson Valley RBERN (Regional Bilingual Education Resource Network). Activities at the prestigious Hispanic youth leadership conference, which is in its 29th year, included debating bills, interacting with Latino/a leaders, and meeting members of the state Assembly. In total 8 delegations from around the state sent over 250 students to the Institute.

PR/HYLI, as it’s known, seeks to develop leadership skills in Latino/Hispanic Youth, create opportunities for them to interact with positive role models, create meaningful partnerships for them and help them develop knowledge of the legislative process.

Hudson Valley RBERNParticipating students debated upcoming bills relevant to themselves and their communities in a mock assembly. Topics ranged from expanding the definition of a hate crime to include immigration status to funding medical coverage for opioid addiction. They debated from the Assembly floor, sitting at legislators’ desks and assuming their roles.

Besides its work with PR/HYLI, the Hudson Valley RBERN, in partnership with Southern Westchester BOCES, provides support and technical assistance to educators of English Language Learners in 144 public school districts and other institutions who serve them.

This year, students also interacted with keynote speaker Julissa Arce. Julissa is a CNBC media contributor, writer, speaker and social justice advocate.

Megan Morales from Arlington Central Schools shared her experience after participating in the program for the past two years:

“The experiences that I have I had in PR/HYLI have been unbelievable. Never have I done an academic program as wonderful as this. Being able to surround myself around peers from all over the state that have similar backgrounds and life experiences such as I is so invigorating for me. This program has taught me to advocate for myself and those in the Latinx community I have met some of the most incredible and heartfelt people through PR/HYLI and an unforgettable life experience.”

Students were selected in a rigorous application process and a series of training sessions kindly hosted by Manhattanville College and Vassar College. The sessions, led by Delegation Leaders Gregory Bailey, Kathleen Lowell, José Meléndez, Ph.D and the rest of the RBERN team helped to enhance students’ leadership, advocacy, public speaking and essay-writing skills.

The training session on essay writing consisted of students writing scholarship application essays. This year’s topic focused on how a student-chosen biliterate person uses their bilingual/biliterate skills and attributes to promote a worthwhile cause for the Latino community. Six students were awarded scholarships by the Hispanic Caucus of the New York State Assembly. Hudson Valley winners included Christian Guáraca, Briana Molina, Evelyn Morales, Hannah Peña, Emely Pérez-Molina, and Bethany Rolón.

The 2019 Hudson Valley PR/HYLI Albany Delegation districts and members:

  • Arlington: Christian Arnfield, Megan Morales;
  • Bedford: Ricardo Nàjera, Hector López;
  • Brewster: Emely Pérez Molina, Emma Sandoval, Yassmin Peralta;
  • Carmel: Bethany Rolón;
  • East Ramapo: Lynette Guaba;
  • Ellenville: Sasha Calderón, Vanelys Malavé Cruz;
  • Elmsford: Shania Rivera;
  • Goshen: Angelina Aruz, Vanessa Keeley, Nathali Palma, Hannah Peña;
  • Mahopac: Karla Jimenez;
  • Monroe-Woodbury: Christian Guaraca;
  • New Paltz: Carlos Rodríguez Murcia;
  • New Rochelle: Brittney Gallego, Andrés Munguia, Sebastián Olivares Marín, Estefany Palencia, Betania Vázquez;
  • Newburgh CSD: Brianna Molina, Anita Sánchez García;
  • North Rockland: Christian Castro, Charity Dikson, Angie Lopez, Anthony Mencia-Polanco, Jair Parra, Maya Rivera;
  • Ossining: Laisha Brito, Federico Grullon, Evelyn Morales, Dylan Rivie;
  • Peekskill: Samantha Saca, Ebany Tapia;
  • Port Chester: Tatiana Baque, Rosa Romero, Valeria Ventocilla, Jorge Zacarías;
  • Poughkeepsie: Yolvelis Martínez;
  • Yonkers: Melany Canizares, Emily Dunk

The HV RBERN extends thanks to Heidi Sakanaka at Manhattanville College and Tracey Holland at Vassar College. The success of the training session series was made possible by their coordination and hospitality.

Special thanks goes to the chaperones Beverly Guity, Kathleen Lowell, José Meléndez, Ph.D of the HV RBERN; Karen Dakin and Christian Hernandez of Brewster; Katharine Gonzalez of Goshen; Sonia Veloz of Peekskill; Paul Donnelly of Poughkeepsie; and Alicia Manguso of Mahopac.

The Angelo Del Toro Puerto Rican/Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute is an innovative collaboration with the NYS Assembly/Senate Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force in conjunction with the annual SOMOS, Inc. conference, the New York State Education Department, Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages and other agencies as appropriate.

Dr. Gladys I. Cruz
10 Empire State Blvd. • Castleton, NY 12033
Tel: (518) 479-6993 • Fax: (518) 477-1335

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