students Katherin Holguin and Linda Zambrano can tell you first-hand about the legislative process from their time in Albany this spring at the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute. Selected because of their scholastic achievement, social awareness, and teacher recommendation, the seniors took part in the three-day event with 200 student leaders from across the state.
While in Albany, Katherin and Linda took part in a variety of activities including team building, college and career development, a youth rally, and a youth forum with current state legislators. The highlight of the three-day event was the Mock Assembly that was actually conducted in the New York State Assembly chamber and included discussion of five actual, real-life bills before the Assembly, including one addressing bullying and one dealing with cultural awareness training for doctors.
Linda served as the Minority Whip's helper and worked to determine how much support each of the five bills before the Assembly had. "It was a lot of hard work," she says. She and Katherin were walking in the steps of for the event and were instructed to act as he would act. This involved learning where he stood on each of the bills and then acting accordingly while participating in the Mock Assembly. While they found their views closely aligned with Thiele's, they did encounter other students who held vastly different views than the legislators they were there to represent.
“It opened my eyes and was interesting to see,” says Katherin of the experience. While she has no plans to pursue a career in politics, she is excited about attending Hunter College next fall to begin her journey to become a Kindergarten teacher.
Linda, who also won a scholarship from the institute by completing an additional essay, says, “I had never heard of the program before, but it was a good experience. It fit perfectly with what I had been learning in my AP Government class and it was nice to go and see why the process is so slow.” Linda will be studying Biology at Duke University next fall and well on her way to meeting her goal of becoming a pediatrician.
Both of the young women had advice for the underclassmen who might be considering taking part in future Youth Leadership Institutes: “Go for it! Make the connections!”