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4 Calistoga Latinas complete leadership program

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HOPE Youth Leadership Program

This year's graduating class of the HOPE Youth Leadership Program includes four Calistoga Latinas.

Four Calistoga Junior Senior High School students successfully completed the HOPE Youth Leadership Program (HYLP), a six-month intensive program specifically designed to develop the leadership skills and enhance the civic engagement of underserved Latina youth across the state of California.

This year’s graduating class is comprised of 34 eleventh grade students from California high schools in Bakersfield, Calistoga, Compton, Fresno, Oakland, Riverside, San Fernando, San Jose, and Santa Ana. The Calistoga students are Vanessa Hernandez, Maria Elena Rodriguez, Gilda Rojas and Ana Karen Valentin.

Participating students took part in four three-day sessions made up of financial literacy and civic engagement workshops and trainings; site visits to top universities in the state; participation in major conferences including HOPE’s Latina History Day and Latina Action Day; as well as in-depth research projects on issues affecting their communities. The Calistoga group researched the issue of safe driving among their peers and had the opportunity to present their findings to state assembly and senate representatives in Sacramento in April.

“It was a beautiful experience and I am lucky to have been able to be a part of this program. I got to learn a lot about who I am and what I am capable of, and know that no matter how hard it gets out there I can do it,” said Maria Elena Rodriguez, a junior at Calistoga Junior Senior High School and graduate of this year’s HYLP class.

The graduation will take place at UC Riverside on Friday, June 16. The culminating event will recognize the hard work and accomplishments of these young leaders who took on the rigorous HYLP program in addition to their academic and personal responsibilities.

The HYLP is a statewide development program designed to prepare low-income, high school-age Latinas for a self-sufficient future that will allow for economic and political parity through a college education. The objectives of the HYLP include college preparation, financial empowerment, enhanced civic participation, and the promotion of healthy living. Since its inception the program has served 3,000 Latina students of which 360 have graduated from the intensive six-month HYLP leadership program, 88 percent of whom have gone on to college. The HYLP is presented by Kaiser Permanente, Union Bank, and The Walt Disney Company.

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