• Donald Tetto

More than 200 of the country’s top high school juniors and seniors will be at Southwestern University July 15-22 to participate in the Texas Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session (LDZ) sponsored by the National Hispanic Institute.

Program organizers are expecting nearly 250 participants this year. Although primarily Texas students, there are some out-of-state participants as well as a few students from Mexico.

Participants will spend the first few days of the program on the Southwestern campus learning how state government works and electing students who will serve in actual government roles. The students will set up legislation and learn about effective caucusing. They will then travel to Austin to hold a mock legislative session in the state capitol. The program will conclude with a Supreme Court-style trial on July 20 and closing ceremonies.

The focus of this year’s program will be teaching students about community organization.

“In order for the U.S. Latino community to participate more fully in the American experience, it must expand the reservoir of talent from which it can select future leaders,” says NHI founder and Southwestern graduate Ernesto Nieto. “Our goal is to cultivate and train our nation’s top Latino high school youth. The earlier we can help these students understand community engagement, the better our country will be.”

In addition to business, there will be some time for fun. On Saturday evening, July 21, participants will attend a “Governor’s Ball” at Southwestern that will be complete with music and a dance floor to celebrate their accomplishments.

Participants also will have the opportunity to visit a college fair at Southwestern University’s Robertson Center on July 21 that is expected to be attended by representatives of more than 25 of the country’s top colleges and universities.

The LDZ program has been offered since 1982, and has been held at Southwestern University each summer since 1985. The program is named after the governor of the state of Mexico in 1827. Lorenzo de Zavala became the first vice president of the Republic of Texas in 1836. In addition to Southwestern, the LDZ program is offered at universities in Colorado, Illinois, New York and Monterrey, Mexico.

For more information on LDZ or the National Hispanic Institute, visit www.nhi-net.org/.


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