From Duarte to the White House

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It gives me great pleasure to report that Jonathan Gonzalez recently was selected to partake in the League of United Latin American Citizens Youth Leadership Seminar. This is a yearly event that hosts Latino/a students from around the nation (including Puerto Rico) in an effort to voice their opinions directly to national leaders and policy makers. It challenges participating youth to focus on their own leadership development and encourages participants to apply these lessons back in their home communities. Participants are recommended by LULAC Councils to serve as representatives of their home states. Once in Washington D.C., students work with LNESC staff and LULAC leaders from across the country to develop a platform of initiatives which are of particular interest to Latino/a youth. After meeting with key policymakers in the field and discussing with think tank representatives, participants collaborate on a position piece, which is then sent to their congressional representatives. In past years, students have focused on issues as varied as gun control, education, immigration, healthcare reform and the economy. Jonathan along with Yazmine Cervantes from Santa Paula High School partook in the seminar. Both Students were awarded with a round trip flight, room accommodations, and 180$ (a piece) for spending money. The total cost of the trip per student was approximately 600$; a sizeable amount for their hard work and academic dedication.

I would also like to add that the road to the White House for Jonathan has not been an easy one. Jonathan came to us from Duarte CA, when custody was transferred over to his aunt (which has been a valuable asset in Jonathan’s life) in an effort to remove Jonathan from a challenging economic, familial, and counterproductive environment that all too often leads many Latino/a youth to a pathway of drugs, violence, and incarceration. Nonetheless it was not easy at first to adjust to a new environment but, Jonathan has made the best. As a result of the change Jonathan has become a role model to many students on campus as well as off. Jonathan has been a part of many presentations in which he speaks about his tribulations back in Duarte and how his life was saved by coming to Oxnard. Jonathan in the last three years has made it his mission to maintain formidable grades and recently participated in Upward Bound as well as wrestling and football. He has been in Oxnard for three years now and is currently a senior at Channel Islands High School. He plans to attend Ventura College to then transfer to Humbolt State University where he plans to major in the Biological Sciences. His ultimate goal is to become a Medical Doctor.

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