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Marymount Hosts Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute


Marymount Hosts Hispanic
Youth Leadership Institute

By John DeSio (FCRH ’00)

High school students interested in learning more about New York State government are getting a chance to experience Albany’s inner working thanks to a program at Fordham University.

On March 15, the University hosted approximately 40 high school students for the kickoff to the 2007 Angelo Del Toro Puerto Rican & Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute in the Pepsico Auditorium at Rita Hall on the University’s Marymount campus. The institute stretched across three days and featured workshops on parliamentary procedure and leadership activities. The event also featured an essay contest to prepare students for a mock legislative session sponsored by the New York State Assembly’s Puerto Rican and Hispanic Task Force in Albany, N.Y., for which 12 students from the group would be selected.

James Hennessy, Ph.D., dean of the Fordham Graduate School of Education, welcomes high school students to the Marymount campus as part of the Angelo Del Toro Puerto Rican & Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute.
Photo by Bruce Gilbert
The students, who hailed from 19 schools in 15 school districts from Rockland, Putnam and Westchester counties, are part of the University’s New York State Lower Hudson Valley Bilingual Education Technical Assistance Center (BETAC) program, administered by Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education. James J. Hennessy, Ph.D., dean of the Graduate School of Education, kicked off the event by congratulating the students in attendance for their hard work and wishing them the best of luck in the BETAC program.

Hennessy spoke of the team-building nature of the institute’s exercises, and urged the students to take the idea of teamwork into their hearts and minds over the course of the three-day event. “I understand that these are team activities, so I’ll leave you with a thought,” said Hennessy. “Leadership is developed through teamwork, and there is no ‘I’ in ‘team.’ Work together.”

Carol E. Pertchik, director of the BETAC program at Fordham University, explained the importance of the program to the participating students, noting that it offers those students a chance to develop a hands-on feeling for the workings of state government and the legislative process. “It’s about building leadership among our youth, particularly within the Puerto Rican and Latino community,” said Pertchik, who added that her office is inundated with calls year ’round from high schools in the Lower Hudson Valley who want their own students to be a part of the BETAC program. “This is a huge and exiting event for us.”

Throughout the day, students broke into groups to discuss the legislative process, to look at bills they would consider during their mock assembly session and learned to apply the concepts of leadership and teamwork not just to their work at the institute, but to their everyday lives. Students also learned more about life in college from a University admissions counselor and enjoyed a college-style cafeteria lunch.

“We are creating a college experience here at our campus as part of the preparation,” said Pertchik. “It definitely adds to the leadership experience.”

Pertchik said that she looks forward to the day when students who have participated in the BETAC conference take the leadership skills the learned in the program and apply them to make a difference in the world.

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