The Central Valley Latino Leadership Academy is looking for new applicants.
The Academy trains Latinos on aspects of leadership and encourages them to serve on boards, commissions, or political office.
Yammilette Rodriguez is a board member with the Academy.
"Because a lot of the skill sets, you know, we, these folks have. It's just how do we refine your skill sets, how do we unleash the beautiful power that you already have," said Rodriguez.
According to the San Joaquin Valley Health Fund, 52% of San Joaquin Valley residents are of Hispanic origin.
Stephanie Briones is an instructor at Clovis Community College and a graduate of the Academy.
She said, "It invigorated me to see a bunch of different Latinos from all different sectors come together and collaborate on ideas. We oftentimes feel like we're not Latino enough, and therefore we can't represent enough, but with that Academy the surprising thing that I realized is that we all kind of fell in that same boat, but we were all reassured that we belonged, and that our voice matters within our community."
Briones was inspired to take on the additional role of project coordinator, helping high school seniors who are interested in STEM careers prepare for college.
"If it weren't for the Central Valley Latino Leadership Academy I wouldn't have felt that confidence and that motivation to help serve the Latino community," said Briones.
The Academy explores Latino identity and provides mentoring and networking opportunities.
Felipe Mercado is a graduate of the Academy. "Sometimes, you know, being Latino when you're loud sometimes that's a bad thing, but it's also a good thing when you're an advocate right and understanding how to challenge, channel and balance that out is very important," said Mercado.
The Academy has more than 100 graduates and will accept new applications in April.
Rodriguez said, "There is a way to engage in your child's education. Why not run for school board? Why not be a part of the parent-teacher Council? Potentially you've always wondered about you know how water works in our communities, especially in our rural communities, why not try to run for those water boards?"
Graduates move on with lessons on culture while gaining confidence.
"We're co contributing to the future so I know that if I ever have an idea if I ever want to serve on a council that Central Valley Latino Leadership Academy, and all of the networking and all the connections that I made, I really have a good start," said Briones.
"There's more to it than knowledge, there's more. It's about connection, it's about culture it's about touching somebody's roots right, it's about humanity," said Mercado.
To get an application, reach out via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Central Valley Latino Leadership Academy looking for applicants