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CHCI congratulates the 2017 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 36 students to D.C. July 23-28, 2017 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 2017 R2L NextGen-Ford Driving Dreams Program.

Biographies and Profiles

Kayla Amaya
Benjamin N. Cardozo High School
Flushing, New York

“It wasn’t only meeting people like me that made this great; it was also meeting people who were not like me that provided me with knowledge that let me wanting more for myself and my community.”

Guadalupe Avalos
Bell High School
Los Angeles, California

“The R2L NextGen program has been incredible – it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that I will never forget. I have grown out of my comfort zone, something I find difficult to do most times. I met new people who I hope to create everlasting bonds with. Finally, I learned how to use my voice in hopes that someday I help empower the Latino community within this country.”

Jorge Barajas
Le Grand Union High School
Planada, California

“The R2L NextGen program taught me that leaders are those who stand up for their thoughts.”

Yasmina Cabrera
High School for Environmental Studies
Bronx, New York

“The R2L NextGen program taught me the power of having confidence in my ability to lead, and connected me with a network of alumni that showed me how influential and dedicated Latinos can be in the professional workforce.”

Jeamilette Castellano
KIPP University Prep
San Antonio, Texas

“CHCI enabled me to gain the motivation and empowerment to become a leader in my community. In the following years, I hope to accomplish many things, so that I can help others like me and feel proud to be Latinx.”

Jovan Castillo
Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center
Chicago, Illinois

“The R2L NextGen program has fueled my passion to engage in the civics of our nation; my insatiable hunger to become a leader and make change in my community has grown significantly.”

Yessica Chiguichon
Ramon C. Cortines School of VAPA
Los Angeles, California

“Today, I walk away a leader who is determined, empowered, passionate and equipped to make change. A change that begins with myself and ends with the world, R2L NextGen taught me I have a voice and that I am not alone. The program gave me the opportunity to grow with no restrictions.”

Eduardo Clavijo
New World School of the Arts
Hialeah, Florida

“I am grateful for this program and that in the crossroads of life, my path intersected with each and every one of my fellow participants and CHCI staff, and I will never meet any others like them. I hope to see them in the future.”

Solange Coronel Cardenas
Manhattan Village Academy
Bronx, New York

“The R2L NextGen program opened many doors for me in D.C. It inspired me to be more proud of being Latina, to no longer be hesitant, and to speak up for what I believe in. Thanks to this program I strongly believe in myself and the capacity I have to make a change in my community. I am glad and proud to be part of the CHCI family.”

Tanya Da Silva
Centennial High School
Roswell, Georgia

“The R2L NextGen program was a life changing experience for me. Thanks to the program, I got to meet with members of Congress, interact with dozens of Latinos, and discuss issues in my community. I became more open-minded; I stepped out of my comfort zone, and became a leader. I feel motivated to go back to my community and implement everything I’ve learned.”

Esau Delgado
Hubbard High School
Chicago, Illinois

“The R2L NextGen program was an eye-opening experience. It showed me the different viewpoints of issues facing this country.”

Maria Dominguez
Golden Valley High School
Merced, California

“The R2L NextGen program helped me realize the importance of being a Latina in my community and to stand up for what’s right. Being a shy person does not mean you’re not capable of speaking up. I am motivated to do things I’ve never done before. This is the beginning of a change in my life of becoming someone better.”

Ramon Duran
Accel Middle College
San Jose, California

“The R2L Next Gen program has empowered me with the knowledge and desire to make a positive impact on my community. Being in Washington D.C. granted me the opportunity to see the National Mall and meet with my members of Congress. The immersive experience inspired me to become more active in the democratic process and fight for those that are misrepresented and less fortunate.”

Ousmane Malik Gaye
Groton School
Clarkston, Georgia

“This week the R2L NextGen program has been one of the most transformational experiences I’ve ever had. I have gained a more comprehensive view on the Democratic system. Along with the ideas and tools that CHCI has given me I know that I can go back into my community and advocate for the topics that affect us all.”

Telmo Gonzalez
NYC Lab School for Collaborative Studies
Elmhurst, New York

“The R2L NextGen program reassured me that I am not as disconnected to my Latino roots as I thought I was. I aim to get involved in politics. I discovered that there are Latinos who are accepting of sexuality and gender. Lastly, I made connections that helped me grow as a person and that I will keep forever.”

Antonia Gutierrez
Carl Hayden Community High School
Phoenix, Arizona

“Si se puede, Si se puede. Those are the words that inspire me now. R2L NextGen is such a beautiful experience and every Latino deserves to be here and learn. I loved everyone and wished they all lived in my state.”

Jacqueline Lamas
Live Oak High School
Yuba City, California

“The R2L NextGen program has been a life changing experience that has taught me to value my opinions and that I can make a difference as long as I put my heart into it. Not only do I leave this program with new knowledge about the political process, but a new view of myself and lifelong friendships I will cherish forever.”

Marsha Madrigal
Fox Tech High School Health and Law Professions Magnet
San Antonio, Texas

“The R2L NextGen program has given me the confidence, knowledge, and skills to be an influential leader in my community. It was a privilege to be a part of this program, and I’ll never forget this experience. R2L NextGen will continue to have an everlasting impact on my life.”

Johnathan Maldonado
Le Grand Union High School
Merced, California

“This unforgettable and once in a lifetime opportunity has equipped me with leadership skills to improve my community. Being a part of the CHCI network and family enables me to be successful and proud of where I come from.”

Cristian Martinez
Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet
Hutchins, Texas

“The R2L Next Gen program has motivated me and changed my life. In just one week, I have learned to accept my true identity. I have been provided me with the knowledge to empower and change my community at a local, state and national level.”

Ricardo Martinez-Romero
Wake Early College of Health and Science
Raleigh, North Carolina

“Throughout the week, the R2L NextGen program gave me an experience of a lifetime. Meeting all the powerful and influential leaders has motivated me to aspire to inspire Latino youth in my community.”

Viviana Mateo
Wake Early College of Health and Science
Raleigh, North Carolina

“I leave the program as a strong and confident leader who is not afraid to speak up, not only for myself but also for those who are still afraid to. I never knew that a person could significantly grow in five days, but this program changed me and made me realize that the strength and confidence that I feel, isn’t just a phase, it’s a part of who I am.”

Kimberly Medina
El Rancho High School
Pico Rivera, California

“Being part of the R2L NextGen program was such a life-changing experience. It helped me grow as a leader and taught me the importance of taking my life experience and using it to help and empower my community.”

Edgar Mercado
Buhach Colony High School
Atwater, California

“The R2L NextGen program allowed me to experience what I have seen on TV and online with my own eyes. It was amazing to visit places where monumental decisions in our nation’s history were made. I look forward to taking the knowledge I have gained back to my community.”

Gabriela Morales
Golden Valley High School
Merced, California

“I have learned so much through R2L NextGen. I will return back home to learn more and become a Latino leader in my community.”

Briseyda Neri
Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School
Clarkston, Georgia

“It is such a transformative experience. I was able to find the courage to find my voice and take the lead to inform and inspire younger generations of Latino students.”

Erika Pototsky
J.P. Taravella High School
Coral Springs, Florida

“The R2L NextGen program encouraged me to pursue a political career. I have learned how to engage with my community, become a leader, and stand up for Latinos. This program taught me the importance of confronting my representatives about critical issues. Now I have created a strong network with other CHCI alumni.”

Samuel Preciado Carillo
El Capitan High School
Snelling, California

“The R2L NextGen program showed me that everyone’s opinions matter and everyone’s voice deserves to be heard. Anyone can make a difference and one should lead by example.”

Anaheim High School
William C. Overfelt High School
Anaheim, California

“This program introduced me to 59 other Latino leaders that want to make a difference in their country. I took part of this program to grow as a person but, to also honor my parents who sacrificed everything to come to this country.”

Ana Richiez
Escuela Secundaria de la Universidad de Puerto Rico
San Juan, Puerto Rico

“The R2L NextGen program has marked my life in multiple aspects. It didn’t just help me develop my leadership skills, but it has also provided me with the tools I needed to raise my voice, express my concerns, and make a change in our government system. Now I am more than prepared to face the current situations in my community.”

Citlalli Rivera
Young Women’s Leadership Academy
San Antonio, Texas

“The R2L NextGen program gave me the amazing opportunity to experience and enhance my leadership skills. CHCI strengthened my understanding of community, civic involvement, and the political process, and allowed me to create memories that will last a lifetime. I will always be thankful to the CHCI R2L NextGen program for contributing so much to my growth.”

Kenneth Rivera
Centro Residencial de Oportunidades Educativas de Ceiba
Luquillo, Puerto Rico

“The R2L NextGen program prepared and taught me to relate to others regardless of nationality. I learned how to become a better person and a stronger Latino leader, and the importance of making a difference in my community. I will apply everything learned in my life and I know this program will continue to help me be successful.”

Fernando Robles
Williams Field High School
Gilbert, Arizona
“The R2L NextGen program gave me the hope that as a Latino I can make a difference in my community. The program empowered me by addressing the issues affecting my community and the world. I now have support from a network of other Latinos my age and Latino mentors that I know will have my back.”

Andrea Tavera
Marine Creek Collegiate High School
Fort Worth, Texas

“The R2L NextGen program inspired me to be the change in my community. In the week here, I met with many influential Latino leaders who showed me that no matter the obstacles we face, if we persevere the Latino community can become a force to be reckoned with.”

Karina Vazquez
Gridley High School
Gridley, California

“The R2L NextGen program reminded me that I have the power to make a difference in my local community and in the nation. I strive to pursue a postsecondary education, to override the Latino stereotype, and to not become a statistic. I will forever treasure the friendships I created this week.”

Patrick Wolfe
Nova High School
Pompano Beach, Florida

“The R2L NextGen program laid down the bricks to my future. It really opened my eyes and changed my life. It was an extraordinary, once in a lifetime opportunity that I will never forget and hope others can get the privilege to experience.”