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CHCI congratulates the 2015 R2L NextGen participants. With the support of 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, and regional sponsors, CHCI brought 50 students to D.C. July 26-31, 2015 to learn about how the Federal Government works, the importance of being civically engaged, and how they can affect positive change in their communities. Each one of these high school students had a unique experience. Read the lasting impressions each one had from this life-changing week.

The program was held in conjunction with the 2015 R2L NextGen-Ford Driving Dreams Program.

Biographies and Profiles

Christopher Acha
Academy of Health Sciences at Prince George’s Community College
Fort Washington, MD

“The CHCI R2L NextGen program provided me with a unique and enriching experience in the realm of civic engagement that I couldn’t have received in any other place. The program tested my boundaries by exposing me to areas outside of my comfort zone and provided me with guidance and assurance that I could do greater things. Throughout the week, I became assured the CHCI believed in me and every other student granted this amazing opportunity; they certainly provided us with a strong foundation to succeed. Thank you for everything CHCI!”

Angel Almora
Joseph Wheeler High School
Marietta, GA

“R2L NextGen is more than just a program, it’s a family. It’s a place full of diversity, friends, confidence building, inspiration, and empowerment.”

Yasmeen Anchia
Keys Gates Charter High School
Homestead, FL

“The R2L NextGen program has helped me come out of my shell and look at life with a new perspective. I feel so empowered and I can actually say this was a life-changing experience.”

Luis Angel
Willow Glen High School
San Jose, CA

“The R2L NextGen program taught me that I have a voice and that it is important to speak up. It also taught me there are resources to help me pay for college and that college is attainable no matter where you come from.”

Elizabeth Arellano
Atwater High School
Livingston, CA

“Participating in the R2L NextGen program increased my pride in being Latina and helped me gain confidence in my abilities.”

Kevin Ayala Franco
Cardozo Education Campus
Washington, DC

“As a result of my participation in the R2L NextGen program, I now believe in myself. I strongly believe that I can achieve my dreams and I am inspired to be someone.”

Carla Carmona
Liceo Ponceño
Peñuelas, PR

“Because of the R2L NextGen experience, I feel ready to make a difference in my community! I now have a group of people I can truly can call my familia. I can’t wait to share with others what this program has to given to me. With these leaders, I know I have all of the support I need.”

Carlos Castillo
Donna North High School
Alamo, TX

“The R2L NextGen program gave me the opportunity to experience new things. The people I met here became my familia. I gained insight on many issues facing the Latino community and I hope to be a part of the change.”

Jennifer Castillo
L.G. Pinkston High School
Dallas, TX

“I learned about leadership and what it takes to be successful to help my community. This program opened my mind and challenged me to trust myself to pursue higher education.”

Gelsey Castorena
South Texas Business, Education & Technology Academy
Mission, TX

“The R2L NextGen program emphasized the importance of education and the power of my voice. Having the opportunity to meet powerful Latino/as helped me realize that despite our challenges, we can make a difference.”

Perla Cervantes
El Monte High School
El Monte, CA

“Because of my R2L NextGen experience, I am more motivated to help create a better future. I now know that I have a voice and that my vote really does count.”

William Colón Soto
Escuela del Deporte de San Juan
San Juan, PR

“The R2L NextGen program helped me understand that as Latinos we can make a significant impact in our community and in the political process.”

Steven Espinoza
iPreparatory High School
Hialeah Gardens, FL

“R2L NextGen was the first time that I delved into the political process. I was pleased to meet my local representatives and when I go back home I will make sure that my voice is heard.”

Norma Flores
Moises E. Molina High School
Dallas, TX

“During the R2L NextGen program, I learned about politics and the big issues that are affecting the Latino community. My favorite part was coming together with my peers and sharing our opinions about issues important to us.”

Bianca Garcia
DePaul Catholic High School
Wayne, NJ

“The R2L NextGen program pushed the boundaries I had set for myself and helped me create a clear path to my future.”

Kenya Gaspar
Belmont High School
Los Angeles, CA

“Participating in the R2L NextGen program opened my eyes and made me realize that my voice matters and that I should speak up about current problems that are present in my community. This program is truly life-changing experience. I learned that if it isn’t me speaking out then who will? And if it isn’t now, then when?”

Johnny Gonzalez
La Villa Early College High School
La Villa, TX

“The R2L NextGen program has inspired me to continue to do more in my community. When I return home I plan to exercise my power to vote and let my voice be heard!”

Kelvin Gonzalez
Cross Keys High School
Atlanta, GA

“This program has motivated me to focus on my education and use all the resources I’m given. I am committed to returning to my community and being a part of a positive change.”

Joe Granados
Skyline High School
Balch Springs, TX

“The R2L NextGen program has encouraged me to care for political issues and encourage other Latinos to vote. This was a unique experience because it taught me the importance of being involved in the political process.”

Amy Guerrero
Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School
Madison, TN

“Participating in the R2L NextGen program was the first time I truly felt that my voice can have an impact in my local community. I’m excited to become a leader in my community.”

Michelle Herrera
Rivera Early College High School
Brownsville, TX

“R2L NextGen was a life-changing experience. It gave me the courage to share my story and break away from my self-doubt. I now believe I can make a difference in issues that I care about in my community and across the nation.”

Marco Huerta
Abraham Lincoln High School
San Jose, CA

“R2L NextGen taught me how to be more confident in myself, and that every single person matters. I now know that we can make a change no matter where we are from. We are all leaders!”

Jenniffer Lago
Hialeah Senior High School
Hialeah, FL

“CHCI’s R2L NextGen program will forever be the experience that changed my life and gave me the motivation to better myself and my community. I will owe my success to CHCI.”

Katherine Linares
Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools
Los Angeles, CA

“Through my participation in the R2L NextGen program, I learned that my voice really does matter and that our generation can make a difference.”

Juana Mata
Emmet J. Conrad High School
Dallas, TX

“Participating in the R2L NextGen program helped me learn that I am not alone and no matter what happens I can make my dreams come true. This program helped me see that I will succeed no matter what comes my way and now I have a network to help me.”

Ana Maya
Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy
Chicago, IL

“The R2L NextGen program has motivated me to become a leader and be more involved in my community. Before the program I was not excited about politics. Now, thanks to the workshops and activities that we did to learn about government, I will be more active in politics.”

Alexander Mendez
International High School
Paterson, NJ

“The R2L NextGen program inspired me to graduate from high school and go on to college. I am committed to voting and becoming involved in the political process in my community.”

Valeria Mendez
Escuela Especializada en Bellas Artes Miguel Julia
Cayey, PR

“R2L NextGen helped me learn how to be a leader and believe in myself to achieve things for myself and community. This program has helped me become more interested in politics and helped me realize that my voice matters.”

Angelica Mercado
Edison High School
Fresno, CA

“The R2L NextGen program reassured me that my education is key to my success. I never considered being involved in politics but this program opened my eyes to all of the possible career options that exist in the future.”

Daniela Morales
Miami Lakes Educational Center
Miramar, FL

“Participating in the R2L NextGen program opened up my eyes and increased my confidence. My favorite activity was meeting with my two state representatives and asking them questions. I am now thinking of pursuing a career in the politics.”

Jessie Muñoz
Home Sweet Home Youth Build Charter School
Los Angeles, CA

“The CHCI R2L NextGen program was an amazing experience! I am grateful for this amazing experience and thankful to all the people who made it happen, including CHCI staff and sponsors.”

Destiny Murillo
Le Grand High School
Le Grand, CA

“R2L NextGen helped me become more confident in myself and my abilities. I now know that my voice can have a real impact in my community. I learned so much and made great friendships.”

Esteban Orellana
Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School
Brooklyn, NY

“Being a part of the great community in the CHCI R2L NextGen program allowed me to learn a lot about myself and my colleagues. We are all connected together as Latinos and we all have similar goals, to make a difference and improve our communities.”

Jailene Peralta
Hillcrest High School
Woodhaven, NY
“There are two sides to every story and being part of the R2L NextGen program helped me see the other side. By listening to the stories of others, I became exposed to a lot of issues and how they impact our community. I learned to respect, accept, and relate and even become part of everyone’s story.”

Ashli Quintela
Le Grand High School
Planada, CA

“The R2L NextGen program changed the way that I view politics and possibly changed my career path as well. It helped me realize that even though we don’t have a choice in where we came from, we have a choice in shaping our future.”

José Ramos
University Gardens High School
Bayamon, PR

“The R2L NextGen program has opened my eyes to the injustices Latinos face in the United States. Being from Puerto Rico, I was sheltered from the realities other Latinos endure and the beauty that comes from our diversity. I now have a deeper understanding of what it means to be Latino.”

Brian Rodriguez
Bronx Studio School for Writers and Artists
Bronx, NY

“After participating in the R2L NextGen program I can say that I am more proud than ever to share that I am Latino. My voice matters and I am going to use it to positively impact the people in my community.”

Diana Rodriguez
Academy of American Studies
East Elmhurst, NY

“The R2L NextGen program was a life-changing experience. This program brings students from all around the country and transforms them into a family. I learned so much about my culture as a Mexican-American from other students from different states and realized how we all have different Latino experiences.”

Zabdiel Rothschild
La Feria High School
La Feria, TX

“The R2L NextGen program has taught me that it’s not a matter of luck but a matter of will power and the desire to succeed. It has taught me that I hold the power to make a difference, but it’s up to me to use it.”

Michael Salinas
Skyline High School
Dallas, TX

“Participating in the R2L NextGen program motivated me to keep learning no matter what. This experience changed my life and inspired me to help my community and continue to serve as a role model and encourage others.”

Kailani Sanchez
Merced High School
Merced, CA

“Because of my participation in the R2L NextGen program, I now believe in myself and plan to continue my education beyond high school. The program helped me want to be more involved in my community.”

Marco Sanchez
Duncan Polytechnical High School
Fresno, CA

“The R2L NextGen program has changed my life significantly and was an unforgettable experience. It has given me the knowledge and confidence to change my community for the better.”

Denisse Sandoval
Miami Lakes Educational Center
Hialeah, FL

“The R2L NextGen program changed my perspective as a young Latina and has inspired me to take action in my community.”

Natalis Torres
Roberto Clemente Community Academy
Chicago, IL

“Being a part of the R2L NextGen program has changed my life. It gave me a positive way to view myself and helped me understand what I can do to make a positive impact in my community.”

Gabino Transito
John Overton High School
Antioch, TN

“The R2L NextGen program has given me confidence and the strength I need to help my community. It has taught me that my voice does matter and that I need to be the change I want to see in my community.”

Jessica Valencia
Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy
Chicago, IL

“The R2L NextGen program helped me think critically about who I want to be now and in the future. I learned that our voices matter and that we can change the world.”

Jennifer Ventura
Capital City Public Charter School
Washington, DC

“Through the R2L NextGen program I met a lot of unique individuals that helped me realize that if we become successful, we won’t just make a difference in our own life but in the lives of everyone around us.”

Nicolas Villaneda
El Rancho High School
Pico Rivera, CA

“The R2L NextGen program made me feel like I was a part of a family. It helped me gain knowledge that I can use to help others.”

Joseph Villegas
Skyline High School
Dallas, TX

“Participating in the CHCI R2L NextGen program was a once in a life time opportunity that I will never forget. I got to meet Members of Congress and make new friends. The program gave me the confidence and determination I needed to give back to my community. I will share every piece of advice I learned in the past couple of days with my friends and family.”

Daniella Zubieta
Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School
Nashville, TN

“The R2L NextGen program taught me that I have a voice and that I too can make a difference in my community. It has allowed me to dream bigger.”