2017 PR/HYLI

Students land scholarships at 27th Annual Puerto Rican/Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute

Westchester districts include Port Chester, New Rochelle

Southern Westchester BOCES, Hudson Valley RBE-RN partner to send second largest delegation to prestigious Albany conference

ALBANY – Six Hudson Valley students were awarded $9,000 in scholarships at the annual Puerto Rican/Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute conference in Albany March 25-27.

The scholarship winners were among the 44-student delegation sent by the Hudson Valley Regional Bilingual Education Resource Network. Activities at the prestigious conference, in its 27th year, included debating bills, interacting with Latino/a leaders, and meeting members of the State Assembly.

PR/HYLI, as the conference is known, seeks to develop leadership skills in Latino/Hispanic Youth, create opportunities for them to interact with positive role models, create meaningful partnerships for them and help them develop knowledge of the legislative process.

Participating students debated upcoming bills relevant to themselves and their communities in a mock assembly. Topics included police brutality, child welfare and undocumented immigrants’ access to higher education. They debated from the Assembly floor, sitting at legislators’ desks and assuming their roles.

Besides its work with PR/HYLI, the Hudson Valley RBE-RN, in partnership with Southern Westchester BOCES, provides support and technical assistance to educators of English Language Learners in 144 public school districts and other institutions who serve them.

Student Lisseth Cabrera of Port Chester called the PR/HYLI experience a great opportunity for young people.

"During this weekend I learned ways to be a good leader in my community, as well as in my High School," Cabrera said. "This experience opened my mind and allowed me to reflect on being more humble. Also, during the mock assembly in the (Assembly) chamber, I thought of what it would be like if I  could be in the position of a person in a legislative assembly and how they work hard for us looking to protect the community. In addition, this helped me in my public speaking and to see the world in different views and that we, young people, can make a big difference through speaking up so that the state government hears us."

The Hudson Valley delegation, the second-largest statewide, after New York City’s, was larger by 10 students than the 2016 delegation. The three-day conference drew more than 200 students statewide.

This year, students also interacted with presenter and comic book creator Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, art director and owner of Somos Arte and also a writer for Marvel Comics and Editor-in-Chief of Darryl Makes Comics, an imprint he co-owns with Darryl “DMC” McDaniels of Run DMC.  

Student Alondro Ochoa of New Rochelle said the conference opened his eyes to the impact he could have on the world.

"What difference can I make? I asked myself many times,"" Ochoa said. "After attempting the PR/HYLI  training sessions, getting to meet similar people that have similar backgrounds as mine, having fun and learning how powerful a Hispanic can be, I realized that we have the ability to change the world. I had curiosity in what I could do to help my community, and I walked out being part of that group that does something about it. And it was all thanks to the unforgettable and once-in-a-life time experience that PR/HYLI offered me."

Student Jefferson Quituisaca of Ossining also said it an experience he won’t soon forget.

“It has given me the opportunity to meet new students, talk to New York State Assembly Members, and to have a great time,” said High School, an Outstanding PR/HYLI Delegate. “Along with the guidance of the amazing staff, this is an opportunity that I will never experience again. I am honored to have been given the chance to attend the organization twice to make a difference in the world."

Students were selected in a rigorous application process and a series of training sessions hosted by Manhattanville College in Purchase and SUNY New Paltz. The sessions, led by Delegation Leaders Gregory Bailey and José Meléndez, Ph.D, helped to enhance students’ leadership, advocacy, public speaking and essay-writing skills.

The training session on essay writing consisted of students writing scholarship application essays. Topics included the power of artistic expression and ways it can be used to advance personal, social, and political concerns and aspirations of members of the Hispanic/Latino community. Thirty-five students were awarded scholarships by the Hispanic Caucus of the New York State Assembly. Winners included Ossining’s Quituisaca, Jonathan Perez and Adolfo Gómez-Liendo from Newburgh, Alondra Ochoa from New Rochelle, and Carla Nazaire and Neily Vera Martinez from New Paltz.

Artistic expression was a theme for the activities on Saturday afternoon. Students worked with facilitators in one of three areas: dance, visual arts and song/poetry writing. Each group, under the direction of talented facilitators, shared their creative and collaborative expressions to represent their current concerns and personal experiences in the Hispanic/Latino community.

The 2017 Hudson Valley PR/HYLI Albany Delegation districts and members:

  • Arlington: Christian Arnfield (Moderator Specialty Role)
  • Bedford: Tiffany Batista-Concepcion, Ricardo Najera, Ferdy Pascual, María Pérez, Milton N. Recinos-Romero
  • Dover: Emily Acevedo
  • Ellenville: Maribel Flores, Lucía Hernández-Calderón
  • Monroe-Woodbury: Kaithleen Rodriguez, Carlos Torres
  • New Paltz: Alegandra Guzman (Minority Leader Specialty Role), Logan Linares, Isabella Mazo, Carla Nazaire, Neily Vera Martinez
  • New Rochelle: Daniel Ayala, Francisco Maldonado, Adrián Morfín, Alondra Ochoa, Jonathan Reyes, Maria Taveras, Omar Tejada
  • Newburgh: Adelson Aguasvivas, Adolfo Gómez-Liendo, Jerry Ortiz, Jonathan Perez
  • Ossining: Carla Inga, Jefferson Quituisaca (Outstanding Delegate Award), Paola Sosa (Governor Specialty Role), Jhaneth Vivar, Ana Tacuri, Natalie Urgiles, Gabriel Lucero
  • Pearl River: Sophia Guano, Yasmin Mendez, Yazil Ramos, Karen Ruballos
  • Port Chester: Lisseth Cabrera, Joseph Cuadros, Valeria Escudero, Angelica Morales, Marcela Nunez Figueroa, Beatriz Rivera

The HV RBE-RN extends thanks to Heidi Sakanaka, Assistant Dean of Community Outreach, and her staff at the Manhattanville School of Education, and to Christine Waldo-Klinger, Director of Campus Auxiliary Services and her staff at SUNY New Paltz. The success of the training session series was made possible by their coordination and hospitality.

Special thanks goes to the chaperones Gregory Bailey, Kathleen Lowell, José Meléndez of the HV RBE-RN; Nalda Chery of Bedford; Angeles Onis-Nazaire of Ellenville; Gustavo Barbosa of New Rochelle; Astrid Chavez and Rosio Enriquez of Ossining; and Mario Coronado of Port Chester.


The Angelo Del Toro Puerto Rican/Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute is a collaboration with the state Assembly/Senate Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force in conjunction with the annual SOMOS El Futuro conference, Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages, the New York State City Board of Education, and other agencies, as appropriate.

Its goals, beyond student empowerment, include:

  • The development of leadership skills in Latino/Hispanic Youth;
  • The creation of opportunities for Latino/Hispanic students to interact with positive role models such as Puerto Rican/Latino elected officials, educators, and business leaders;
  • The creation of partnerships and conversations among educators, business leaders and students, and
  • The development of an in-depth knowledge of the state legislative process.

The Puerto Rican/Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute consists of 3 main phases: legislative and advocacy training; participation in the three-day institute; and extension and refinement of leadership skills in students’ home communities.

Learn more at http://www.prhyli.org/.