Rams on the Rise

Juniors Jeimy Zacaras and Camila Berneo

Rams on the Rise: Juniors Jeimy Zacaras and Camila Berneo

Students have special opportunity to learn how government functions

Juniors Jeimy Zacaras and Camila Berneo have a unique opportunity to gain leadership experience as they were accepted into the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Youth Leadership program. The program is part of an organization that was founded by New York State Assemblyman Angelo del Torro, which brings Hispanic youth together. It offers leadership training and a special opportunity to attend the Somos El Futuro Legislative Conference, a three-day event in Albany.

Participants must apply and be accepted into the program. Not all those who are involved have the opportunity to attend the annual conference. Fortunately for Jeimy and Camila, they were accepted. They have been meeting regionally with other area students and attended the conference from March 7 to 9. The event included speakers, workshops, a mock assembly, scholarships and an alumni panel.

“I was excited because I can have this opportunity,” Jeimy said, adding that her brother was also part of the program in past years. “We are learning how to be leaders.”

Once she was accepted, she asked her friend Camila to apply as well: “I was happy and excited,” Camila agreed.

There are three main components of the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute. The first consists of regional delegates that focus on researching local issues; the second is the conference, where about 200 students participate in team-building exercises, a mock assembly session and a student recognition dinner and finally, and the third is students continue to develop their leadership skills in their local communities.

“I think it’s a good opportunity to learn about my country,” said Jeimy, who is originally from Guatemala. “We have an opportunity to learn more about how it works.”

 “I am looking forward to the experience and to grow as a person,” said Camila, who is from Ecuador.

The students agreed that their participation in the leadership program has benefited them.

Jeimy hopes to one day become an artist, especially since drawing is one of her passions and she hopes to one day major in the fine arts. “I want to strengthen and open minds,” added Jeimy.

Camila wants to be a lawyer: “I like the program because I think all the students involved have a different perspective,” she said. “They want to change something.”