OSSINING, N.Y. -- Seven Ossining High School students recently had the opportunity to participate in the 27th annual Puerto Rican/Hispanic Youth Leadership Conference in Albany.
The students participated in four intensive full-day leadership institutes in advance of the conference at the state capitol. More than 200 students from around the state participated in the Albany event, where they took part in a mock Assembly session, represented the Democratic and Republican party caucuses, and met with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, as well as several senators and Assembly members.
They also met with MaryEllen Elia, the state education commissioner. The topics of this year’s mock session bills included police brutality, child welfare and undocumented immigrants’ access to higher education.
The purpose of the Angelo Del Toro Puerto Rican/Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute is to empower students and help them develop leadership skills; give them opportunities to interact with positive role models; create partnerships among educators, business leaders and students; and educate students about the state legislative process.
Jefferson Quituisaca, one of the Ossining students who participated in the conference, said it was an experience he would never forget.
“It has given me the opportunity to meet new students, talk to New York State Assembly members and to have a great time,” Quituisaca said. “I am honored to have been given the chance to attend the conference twice to make a difference in the world.”
He was one of 35 students selected for scholarships from the state Assembly’s Hispanic Caucus, including six from the Hudson Valley . He received a $2,000 scholarship and an Outstanding Delegate Award
The students were selected to attend the institute following a rigorous application process and participation in the leadership institutes, which were designed to enhance their leadership, advocacy, public speaking and essay-writing skills.
The youth conference was presented in conjunction with the New York State Assembly/Senate Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force, the annual SOMOS El Futuro conference, the state Education Department and other agencies.