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CHCI congratulates the 2013 R2L NextGen participants. In partnership with the Close Up Foundation and founding sponsor State Farm®, as well as Southwest Airlines, the official airline of CHCI Leadership Programs, and Macy’s, the official R2L NextGen wardrobe sponsor, CHCI will bring these students to D.C. July 14-19, 2013 to learn about how the Federal Government works, the importance of being civically engaged, and how they can affect positive change in their communities. Stay tuned to learn more about their experience!

Each one of these high school students had a unique experience. Read the lasting impressions each one had from this life-changing week.

Biographies and Profiles

Fernando Almaraz
Buhach Colony High School
Merced, California

“During the R2L NextGen program, I met Latinos with diverse backgrounds and careers. These encounters inspired me to fulfill my desire of attaining a college education.”

Daniela Alvarado
High School of Telecommunication, Arts and Technology
Brooklyn, New York

“During this program, I learned so much about government, politics and our Latino community. The most important thing that I learned during this trip is that I must believe in myself.”

Martin Amezquita
Monta Vista High School
San Jose, California

“My participation in CHCI’s R2L NextGen has been really beneficial; I learned so many new [things] I did not know about. I learned how to become a leader and how to stand up and speak up for our community.”

Denise Barrios
Social Justice Humanitas Academy
Sylmar, California

“The R2L NextGen program, CHCI, and Close Up have widened my view to realize the magnitude of power that Latinos have. It is essential for Latinos to be engaged in politics because the alternative is other people making decisions for us that many not allow us to live happily.”

Jorge Barrios
Thomas Kelly High School
Chicago, Illinois

“My goal is to return home and speak with as many people in my community and beyond about what I learned in this program and motivate them to follow the fight towards real change. Thanks to CHCI, I learned that it is very important for my fellow Latinos to be engaged in politics.”

Doris Benavides
Jack E. Singley Academy
Irving, Texas

“There are no words to explain how great it was to leave my state, even for a couple of days, in order to understand more about who I want to become.”

Mariela Bravo
School of Law and Government at Roosevelt High School
Los Angeles, California

“In just a week I learned so much and feel like I came out of the program a different person. Apart from learning about important issues, I also learned how important it is to respect different points of view and to value my Latino heritage.”

Cynthia Bravo-Zamora
Le Grand High School
Planada, California

“Before the CHCI R2L NextGen program, I was unaware of the importance of an internship opportunity. As soon as I can, I will be applying to internships, especially those that allow me to come to Washington, D.C. like CHCI’s internship.”

Cameren Ceniceros
Bloomington High school
Fontana, California

“Washington, D.C. showed us that there are people out there who have overcome so much to get to where they are, and that it is not about the individual but about how they can positively affect the community. Thanks to CHCI, I now know what I am capable of accomplishing.”

Adrian Chao
Betty H. Fairfax High School
Laveen, Arizona

“My favorite part of the R2L NextGen program was graduation. Seeing so many accomplished people celebrate our class was empowering. I will return to Arizona ready to take action.”

Karina Chaparro
Spry Community Links High School
Chicago, Illinois

“While in D.C. I took note of how much more complicated and intricate our government is than I had originally thought. Even then, CHCI has inspired me to be more hands on, which is why upon my return to Chicago I plan to schedule a meeting with the mayor to discuss public school reform.”

Adilenne Diaz
NFL YET Academy – ESPIRITU Schools
Phoenix, Arizona

“R2L NextGen has helped me to grow as a person, a student, and most importantly as a Latino leader. I now feel excited and confident about going back to my community and encouraging other Latinos to become civically engaged and to let their voices be heard.”

Yareri Equihua
South Mountain High School
Phoenix, Arizona

“Participating in R2L NextGen has increased my pride in being a Latino…do not forget where your roots are and how you can look back and help those in need.”

David Espinoza
Luther Burbank High School
San Antonio, Texas

“After meeting so many dynamic Latino Leaders during the R2L NextGen program, I learned the importance of loving and respecting my culture and background.”

Mayra Gonzalez
Williams Preparatory
Dallas, Texas

“My biggest take away from the CHCI R2L NextGen program is that I am capable of affecting change. Just because I’m young doesn’t mean I can’t change the world. I will do my best to become an advocate for others.”

Edgar Gonzalez Jr.
Whitney M. Young Magnet High School
Chicago, Illinois

“The R2L NextGen program confirmed that being proud and embracing my culture is not only okay, but necessary. As a Latino, I was able to examine and see what I might be like in the political spectrum.”

Diana Lara
School Without Walls
Washington, District of Columbia

“Government and politics can be messy and unpopular, but CHCI has shown me the beauty of what it means to have the power to influence change by something as simple as speaking up. My perceptions about government have slightly changed in that I can now see myself being that change.”

Marisela Lara
Washington-Lee High School
Arlington, Virginia

“CHCI provided the appropriate space for us to engage in discussions about many important issues, and I learned that as a female, first-generation college-bound Latina, I have a voice in this world and in my community. I plan to return CHCI’s investment by sharing my knowledge with my community.”

Marlene Lara
Le Grand High School
Planada, California

“The CHCI R2L NextGen program has inspired me to pay it forward. One of my long term goals is to work with an organization in my community that will empower Latino youth to get an education and become involved in their community.”

Luis Lemus
North Dallas High School
Dallas, Texas

“During my time in Washington, D.C., I was able to see myself as the leader who will make a positive difference in our community.”

Dulce Lopez
Valley High School
Santa Ana, California

“Through the R2L NextGen program, I discovered that I am not the only young Latino person who is concerned about my country and motivated to make a difference in my community. Meeting other young leaders has motivated me to continue getting involved.”

Dominic Martinez
Marcos De Niza High School
Tempe, Arizona

“I met so many professional Latinos during this trip who shared valuable tips and life lessons; I wouldn’t have received this anywhere else!”

Isaac Martinez
Wilmer Hutchins High School
Wilmer, Texas

“I can’t let my community down. I am returning home with so much knowledge and I cannot let this experience go to waste.”

Celest Menchaca
Santa Teresa High School
San Jose, California

“During the R2L NextGen program, I was inspired by so many Latino professionals who all emphasized the importance of a college education. As a result, instead of pursing an education at a junior college I am going to strive to attend a four-year university. I will make a difference in my community.”

Daniela Monreal
Montgomery Blair High School
Silver Spring, Maryland

“CHCI is responsible for sparking a passion to come out of my shell and start leading. There were so many important issues we discussed that caused my heart to want to speak out and make a change for the good of the public. “

Kevin Moreno
Nicholas Senn High School
Chicago, Illinois

“CHCI helped empower us by exposing us to Latino leaders making a difference for the better. I now understand that I represent a lot of my peers who will not have this opportunity, so it will be a shame if I don’t return and give back to CHCI one day.”

Edgardo Mota
Van Nuys High School
Van Nuys, California

“Before coming to D.C., I thought I could be a leader. Thanks to CHCI, I left feeling like one. R2L NextGen has been a wonderful experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

Adam Ochoa
South Gate High School
Cudahy, California

“R2L NextGen has opened doors to remarkable things to come. I will take the memories, contacts, skills, and friendships I gained in Washington everywhere life takes me.”

Raul Ortega
Fairfax High School
Fairfax, Virginia

“Every single person I met through the R2L NextGen program is a living example of all that can be accomplished in life without having to pay much mind to personal circumstance.”

Yatziry Ortiz
James Lick High School
San Jose, California

“My biggest insight this week had to do with the power of my voice. The various role models I met reminded me that my voice counts.”

Michelle Panchana
John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls’ High School
Camden, New Jersey

“CHCI gave me a confidence boost and taught me to fight for the education that I deserve. I know that this experience has already made a positive impant on my future.”

Heather Perez
South San High School
San Antonio, Texas

“[I] can gladly say that [my] perceptions about government and political system have changed because of my participation in the R2L NextGen program. Now, I am an empowered citizen who will contribute to our community.”

Jonathan Ramirez
LEAP Academy University Charter School
Camden, New Jersey

“R2L NextGen increased my pride in my Latino heritage. My community will see my leadership because I plan to do everything in my power to share my knowledge to make my city one of the best cities in New Jersey.”

Peter Rivera
LEAP Academy STEM High School
Camden, New Jersey

“CHCI has shown me that it doesn’t matter where you come from, that if you get an opportunity to do good you should take advantage of it. R2L NextGen also taught me a lot about the Latino community and how just a little determination can take you anywhere you want in life.”

Gerardo Rodriguez
South San Antonio High School
San Antonio, Texas

“As a leader, I plan to share the knowledge that I have learned in the R2L NextGen program with my peers, friends, and family. I will show and tell my peers what I have learned about our government and how it works.”

Manuel Rodriguez
Edison High School
Fresno, California

“It is important for Latinos to be involved in shaping public policy because it affects our everyday life, and R2L NextGen reinforced this idea. I plan to stay involved by continuing to stay in contact with my local elected officials. I hope to one day be a positive influence on other Latino students just like CHCI has been for me.”

Liliana Salas
Memorial High School
San Antonio, Texas

“I have learned so many great things in this program such as to stand up for my beliefs and opinions. I have learned that I can dare to stand up because my voice matters. I believe that as a Latino I have to motivate others to show my community that if we all work together we can make a difference.”

Odett Salcedo
Gregorio Luperon High School for Science and Math
New York, New York

“While in Washington, D.C., I had the opportunity to meet two Dominican college students who were interning on Capitol Hill and were from my neighborhood. My interaction with them made me think, if they can make it, so can I.”

Anthony Sandoval
Cesar Chavez High School
Phoenix, Arizona

“During the CHCI R2L NextGen program, I was reminded that my story is a source of pride. I should never forget where I came from and what got me here in the first place.”

Dominic Vasquez
South San Antonio High School
San Antonio, Texas

“CHCI R2L NextGen program has showed me that I can be a leader. Who knows, one day maybe I’ll be president!”