Student Spotlight for National Hispanic Heritage Month: Latinas Leading Tomorrow
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Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month means putting aspirations into action. Latinas Leading Tomorrow (LLT) is a non-profit that is looking to expand its reach and empower young women within the Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) community. Its vision is for a world that benefits from a community of educated, committed and empowered Latinas. Through its programs, LLT works to provide a safe space for young women to deepen their cultural and racial/ethnic identity and explore what it means to be a Latina in the U.S. Recognizing the rich diversity in our country, LLT welcomes women from all backgrounds to participate in its programs so they can gain intellectual, social and cultural experiences that help them grow into strong, success-driven young women empowered with the freedom and aspirations to become notable leaders of the future.
“Our mission is to connect and expose Latinas to opportunities that enrich their future through education, mentoring and leadership development,” explains LLT founder and Board Chair Madeline LaSalle Frazier. Looking to expand the reach of LLT, Lasalle Frazier says the non-profit is inviting committed school professionals who are willing to partner with the group to become chapter coordinators and mentors for about 20 students through its after-school program. Chapter coordinators agree to meet with the young women at least twice a month and develop a plan for the year that is based on the organization's pillars of identity, service, academic excellence and leadership development.
LLT offers three programs:
- CORE (Creating Opportunities to Reach Excellence): Through LLT’s middle and high school chapters, CORE is designed to focus on cultural identity, leadership development, academics, governance, community service and mentoring. This program is led by volunteer educators with professional backgrounds in academics, diversity and inclusion who understand the unique barriers experienced by these students.
- ELITE (Exemplifying Leadership In a Team Environment): This high school-oriented program provides participants with assistance in creating their own personal portfolio to prepare them for success in the academic and career worlds. The ELITE Academy incorporates self-awareness activities, advanced leadership training and cutting-edge corporate mentorship from highly-skilled professionals.
- Latina Labs: Geared towards Latina middle school students, the purpose of Latina Labs is to introduce STEM career options. The sessions are led by talented professionals with a background in science, engineering and technology who can relate to the struggle of first-generation youth.
“I look at my time with LLT with immense gratitude because it was one of the first and only spaces that I felt seen and understood in my identity as a Latina and daughter of Salvadoran immigrants,” noted Cindy Centeno, an external relations specialist with the ACPS Office of Community Partnerships and Engagement. Participating in LLT from middle to high school, Centeno credits the organization with teaching her about the power and strength that comes from within and to never stop dreaming regardless of obstacles. “The goal is to provide an opportunity to make new connections, build confidence and develop life skills,” adds Centeno.
Education professionals interested in discussing LLT as an option for their schools can contact Madeline@LatinasLeadingTomorrow.org.
- National Hispanic Heritage Month