Over 200 Hispanic students from high schools across New York State gathered in Albany from March 25-27th to participate in the Angelo Del Toro Puerto Rican/Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute (PRHYLI). The purpose of the Institute is to give students an in-depth knowledge of the New York State legislative process and government as well as develop leadership skills of Latino/Hispanic youth.
The first day of the institute consisted of team building activities designed to enhance leadership and the collaborative presentations in visual arts, dance and music. State Education Department Assistant Commissioner Lissette Colón-Collins gave welcoming remarks on Saturday along with the statewide coordinators, Regent Luis Reyes, Regent Beverly L. Ouderkirk and Regents Chancellor Dr. Betty A. Rosa. Edgardo Miranda-Rodríguez, creator/writer of “La Boriqueña”, a comic book featuring a Puerto Rican heroine was featured as this year’s keynote speaker.
During the Institute, the student delegates got a first-hand look at the legislative process and participated in a Mock Assembly debating actual bills before the NYS Legislature. This year, these bills covered the following topics: immigration enforcement and the child welfare system (A00339), racial profiling and traffic stops (A00253) and post-secondary education for illegal aliens (A00728) on the Assembly floor. Students from the eight delegations chose these bills specifically because of their relevance to current events and prevalence in their communities.
On Monday students participated in workshops and then visited their local legislators to discuss issues affecting the Hispanic/Latino community.
The leadership program continues the work of the late Assemblyman Angelo Del Toro, who died in 1994. Del Toro was influential in helping Hispanic youth understand their civic duty, get involved in politics, and encouraging them to give back to their communities.
“This program exemplifies the vision of Angelo Del Toro to get Hispanic youth engaged in social issues by developing leadership and advocacy skills necessary to advance a cause. I am immensely proud of all the student delegates for the hard work they’ve done over the past months to prepare for the Institute. What these students have learned through the Institute will serve them well as they go on to do great things in their schools and communities” said Dr. Cruz.
This year $41,000.00 in scholarships were awarded to 32 students from across the state. This included $40,000.00 awarded by SOMOS, Inc. and $1,000.00 awarded through a special Yesenia Valle Scholarship funded by the family of late PR/HYLI Trainer and Capital District REBRN Specialist.
Questar III BOCES currently holds a five-year contract awarded by the State Education Department to coordinate the Angelo Del Toro Puerto Rican/Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute Statewide. Questar III’s staff works closely with the NYS Assembly/Senate Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force in conjunction with the annual SOMOS Inc., the Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages, the New York City Board of Education, Regional Bilingual Education Resource Network (RBERN), and other agencies across NYS.
Questar III applauds the 2017 Angelo Del Toro Puerto Rican/Hispanic Youth Leadership student delegates for their determination and participation. For more information on the program, visit www.prhyli.org.