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National Hispanic Institute and Sands Celebrate the Youth Leadership Development Program’s First Las Vegas Graduates

Friday, 07 June 2024 09:45 AM

Las Vegas Sands

NORTHAMPTON, MA / ACCESSWIRE / June 7, 2024 / National Hispanic Institute's first Sands-sponsored Las Vegas graduates were recognized at a celebratory dinner honoring their journeys in the high school leadership development program, which cultivates future community leaders by fostering skills in communication, community advocacy and policy-making. The program also prepares participants for success in higher education.

Three years ago, NHI re-established its presence in Las Vegas through seed funding and support from Sands Cares. The graduating class of 2024 represents the first group to have completed NHI's programming, with many of the graduates beginning their participation as sophomores while others joined in their junior and senior years. These 10 graduating seniors have gained new skillsets and inspiring experiences thanks to their time with NHI.

NHI's transformative leadership development curriculum includes a series of three immersive and progressive programs that prepare students to engage in community life with an asset-based perspective, organizational skills and leadership experience. Their work in each program level culminates in leadership development events held on college campuses during the summer.

As graduating seniors prepare for the next steps in their education, a few of NHI's first Las Vegas graduates reflected on how participating in NHI's programs impacted their development.

Isalia Minnalez
Minnalez plans to attend Boston College in the fall and said NHI's programs broadened her world view and sense of community.

"NHI opened my eyes to people's different backgrounds and experiences, and it made me more appreciative of my circumstances," Minnalez said. "It also helped me realize you have more community than you think you do. You learn that you share the same ethnicity, language and values with so many people from so many places, and it makes you appreciate the community you have.

"What also stuck out to me was the aspect of thinking outside the box. You learn to use asset-based thinking, instead of deficit-based thinking. It teaches you to look at what you have and what you can build on. Having so many intelligent kids from all walks of life come together for these programs, driven to improve the Latinx community, is truly inspiring."

Madison Messner
Messner will attend the University of Pennsylvania and appreciated that NHI helped her learn how to connect with people in a deeper, more authentic way.

"NHI helps you be more of an empathetic person and makes you look beyond what a person initially says," Messner reflected. "NHI taught me how to really take a step back and talk to people to get to know them, and really interact with them.

"You need to dig deeper than just face value. You meet so many people from different backgrounds, and learning how to take a step out of your own bubble and shell to really understand and connect with people is really the best gift NHI has given me."

Jason Resendiz
Resendiz, who plans to attend UNLV, said the opportunity for personal growth was a key benefit of his participation in NHI.

"I really think NHI brings you a lot of social maturity - it's a lot of high school kids in a new environment on university campuses," he said. "We gained a lot of maturity from it and [could] really see what we're capable of and how we can take these skills we learned into our life.

"A big takeaway for me was realizing what you're capable of and how easy it is to grow and learn and achieve greatness. Being with 100 kids who you don't know… but we came together as a family and community. It also taught me to look out for myself - that was the biggest achievement for me. If you're unable to help yourself, you can't help others as much as you want."

Orethia Parks
Parks plans to attend Case Western Reserve University on a full scholarship to pursue a nursing degree and said the confidence she gained in NHI was pivotal.

"The main takeaway I believe I got from all of my NHI experiences is that I am worthy," Parks said. "Before joining NHI and even for a good time afterward, I believed that I didn't have any unique or redeeming qualities or experiences to set me apart from the crowd. I didn't think I could achieve anything extraordinary because of those negative thoughts.

"For anyone else who has similar thoughts to the old me, I want you to proceed with this mindset: do not be the one who tells yourself no; let others tell you no."

College Preparation and More
NHI's first Las Vegas graduates also shared how NHI supported them in the college application process and defining their areas of study.

NHI's programming helps rising seniors focus on college application fundamentals such as reflecting the best versions of themselves in their college essays and interviews and using self-inquiry to develop solid plans for the future. The results of this concentrated work during the summer months aided their college admissions process and helped create strong results for their college destinations.

Each of the students found inspiration for shaping their college paths and strengthening their college applications through NHI.

"I knew I wanted to major in biology and conservation because I want to be a veterinarian, but through my time in NHI, I found I'm really passionate about Latin studies, Spanish and social justice," Messner said. "So that's something I'm going to minor in. It's also going to impact what clubs I join and how I spend my time."

NHI also helped Resendiz and Minnalez plan their futures.

"I always knew I wanted to help people and help them figure out things about themselves," he said. "But it wasn't until I went through these programs that I realized I wanted to go into law. Talking with my education advisor at NHI really helped me figure this out, and she opened my eyes to new possibilities. After the program, I became very open to thinking that I could do this, and work to achieve my goals and strive for greatness."

Minnalez originally planned to study environmental science, but her NHI experience sparked an interest in humanitarian areas and helping people improve their quality of life.

"Now, I'm going to major in human-centered engineering, which aims to improve people's lives through engineering, to make sure what you're doing is the best fit for the people around you, and not damage the environment," she said. "Being in NHI also made me realize how privileged we are to live where we do and how much help people need. I want to continue that in my career and my life."

Sands' partnership with the National Hispanic Institute is part of the company's priority on building the workforce of the future through support for mentorship and youth development programs. To learn more about the company's commitment to advancing education through Sands Cares initiatives, read the latest environmental, social and governance report:

View additional multimedia and more ESG storytelling from Las Vegas Sands on

Contact Info:
Spokesperson: Las Vegas Sands
Email: [email protected]

SOURCE: Las Vegas Sands

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
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