Students at leadership summit encouraged ‘to be more than what they think they can be’

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – More than one thousand 7th, 8th, and 9th-grade students and educators gathered at Salt Lake Community College on Monday for the 2019 Multicultural Youth Leadership Summit.

The goal of the summit was to help students of all backgrounds learn about post-secondary education options and allow them to grow as leaders.

Brian Yazzie, Diversity and Equity Coordinator of Provo City School District, said that though graduating from high school is important, he wants students to keep developing themselves afterward too.

“We want them to go beyond that to really explore their talents, the abilities that they have, whether it’s through a junior college or a four-year school, or even a tech school,” he said. “Those opportunities are there for them to keep growing and developing their skills to help them as they become adults.”

Both Governor Gary R. Herbert and Lt. Governor Spencer J. Cox gave speeches at the event. Students participated in breakout sessions and workshops throughout the day.

Lt. Governor Cox shared his childhood struggles with low self-esteem and mental illness. He encouraged students to reach out for help and talk about mental health with their friends.

Sebastian Delprado is an eight grader who attended the summit. He liked that every speaker shared something about their own story.

“They all said some obstacle that slowed them down, but also something that helped them overcome it all,” he said.

Delprado said his goal is to eventually study aerospace engineering at MIT.

According to americanprogress.org, there are significant disparities in access to higher education for Black and Hispanic students. Furthermore, Black and Hispanic students are less likely to graduate from college than their white counterparts.

Emma E. Houston, Chair for the MLK Commission, said that youth from marginalized communities don’t always have the support mechanism in place telling them that they can go to college or a trade school.

“… this plants in them the opportunity to start thinking about it and then acting upon it. So, we have the college admissions directors here saying, “We have space for you. We want you to be here. Here’s an opportunity for you to grow and develop,” she said. It sends volumes to those students to encourage them to be more than what they think they can be…”

If he could send each student off with one message, Yazzie said he would tell them “to dream big, that no dream is an impossible dream if they’re willing to work to obtain it.”

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