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Miami Dade College and Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership Partner to Develop Young Hispanic Leaders


MDC students attending Harvard University's Latino Leadership Initiative this summer.

Miami, May 23, 2011 - The Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University, the nation’s oldest and most recognized higher education institution, and Miami Dade College (MDC), the nation’s largest and one of the most respected institutions of higher education, have created a partnership that will enable MDC students to participate in the Latino Leadership Initiative (LLI).

The LLI will take place from June 25 through July 3, 2011, at which time students will work with an intensive curriculum that will help them develop critical leadership skills, and will equip them with tools for success in academics and business. Several sessions will also provide students the opportunity to interact with major national leaders who will share their own personal stories and leadership trajectories.

For some key perspective, it is estimated that the Latino community will double in size over the next 40 years and will comprise more than 30% of the United States population by 2050.  To help develop a cadre of next generation leaders from and for this community, the Harvard Kennedy School’s (HKS) Center for Public Leadership (CPL) has established the Latino Leadership Initiative. Last year’s inaugural cohort of LLI participants included 28 rising college seniors from five universities around the country. This June, 40 students from seven universities will take part in the collaboration.

Regular teleconferences hosted by CPL will enable LLI participants to continue their leadership development over the ensuing academic year. In addition, the students from each of the seven participating schools will work as a team to design a community service project that will be implemented in collaboration with faculty and/or administration from their home university.

MDC was chosen for the LLI because of its outstanding reputation in student attainment and its unparalleled open access policy. Students will reside in Harvard dormitories along with Harvard graduate students who will mentor them. As mentioned, the MDC students are expected to develop a personal leadership project in Miami that they will execute with Harvard’s help when they return. The objective is to develop young Latino Leaders across the state and the nation.

The MDC students participating this Summer are:

1)       Anabetsy Rivero: GPA 3.96                     Major: Chemistry

Anabetsy tutors in mathematics, chemistry, biology and physics. She completed the English as Second Language program at MDC. Originally from Cuba, in only three years she has adjusted well to her new academic environment. She is actively involved in service learning and in student organizations like the All Nighter for Haiti, Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society, the Chemistry Club and Urbana Literary Magazine.


2)       Laura Barrera: GPA 3.83                          Major: Business Administration

Laura is a member of the PTK Honors Society and Imagination Federation Club. She was also involved in the All Nighter for Haiti that helped raise more than $20,000 for sustainable projects in this developing nation. She is also involved in the Tengo Un Sueno (I Have a Dream) program where Laura and other students will support the education of children in Nicaragua.


3)       Vanessa Chalmers: GPA 3.53                  Major: Political Science

Vanessa participates in many service learning projects, volunteers at the campus’ Access Disabilities Center and in various fundraising initiatives. She has worked with other campus clubs to fund the “Food for the Poor” organization’s efforts to contribute towards the building of sustainable Tilapia farms in Haiti. She is fluent in French, Haitian Creole, Spanish and English.


4)       Luis Sanchez: GPA 3.72                             Major: International Relations

Luis was an intern for the South Florida office of U.S. Senator Bill Nelson. He was also an intern with Elettronika America, a company with headquarters in Italy, where he learned about international commerce and trade.


5)       Jessenia Guerra: GPA 3.86                      Major: Nursing

Jessenia has extensive experience as a volunteer at the Regis House mentoring children at Melrose Elementary School and also the Baptist Health Doctors Hospital where she helped nurses and interacted with patients. She has also tutored ninth grade students and participated in the Florida Breast Initiative.


6)       Jessica Giraldo: GPA 3.95                         Major: Paralegal Studies

Jessica has many hours of community service working as a paralegal, at toy drives, domestic violence victims’ awareness initiatives and even book fairs. Jessica was the President for MDC’s society for Law and Community Service. She has been a mentor at Southside Elementary and a volunteer for Neighborhood Housing Service of South Florida.

For more information, please contact Mr. Carlos Barrezueta, executive director of MDC’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Initiatives, at 305-237-3944 or


Media-only contacts:
Juan Mendieta, 305-237-7611,, MDC communications director
Tere Estorino, 305-237-3949,, MDC media relations director
Tarnell Carroll, 305-237-3359,, media specialist
Sue Arrowsmith, 305-237-3710,, media specialist

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