The Tejano Center is Training the Next Generation of STEM Leaders

 Guest blog post by Giovanni Escobedo, Youth Advisory Committee Member, NCLR

Our children grow up in a society that demands expertise in everything. Deciding to sit back and rely solely on learning from textbooks is not enough for their overall development. We live in the age of specialization, and children cannot afford to miss out on this window of opportunity and be left behind. The Tejano Center’s Raul Yzaguirre Schools for Success in Brownsville, Texas is working hard to address that problem by providing educational offerings in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields to the children of South Texas with the help NCLR’s CHISPA initiative.

At the Tejano Center, kids meet twice a week to work on science lessons and to learn what it takes to become scientists. In groups of about six students from various grade levels, they collaborate to perform experiments while simultaneously strengthening their interpersonal and leadership skills. Their conversations across the table are a sign that they understand and enjoy the lesson—and that they have mastered the complex scientific concepts to the point where they can explain them to each other in a way that is easy to understand.

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A Legacy of Service

By Feliza Ortiz-Licon, Ed.D, Director of Education, California & Far West, NCLR

Growing up in a traditional Latino home, I was expected to introduce myself to every adult with my name and the following Spanish phrase, “Para servir a usted.”  This customary greeting translates directly as “At your service.”  When called upon, the appropriate response—as instructed by my parents—was “Mándeme,” which closely translates to “How can I assist?”  In line with the traditional values of colectivismo, I—like many Hispanic children—was raised to be service-oriented:  to assist others by serving as a language broker, translating materials and completing paperwork for non-English speakers; helping neighbors with childcare needs; and even sending money back to the homeland to help others.


Despite our long and rich tradition of service, studies suggest that Latino youth are the least likely to volunteer or to work collaboratively with others to address community problems.  The notion of disengaged youth is further reinforced by the “selfie” culture that prevails in social media sites.  This has led many to criticize the perceived self-absorbed nature of the “millennial” generation.  Continue reading

A Call to Action for Latino Youth!

By Cindy Zavala, Southeast Region Youth Advisory Committee Representative, Lideres

LideresLogoIt was such a pleasure to finally meet all the members of the 2013 Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) and all the young Líderes face to face this past summer at the Lideres Summit in New Orleans. The energy and passion that all brought to this year’s Summit is still alive and well. We truly brought out the “Power of We,” from the informative workshops this year to the fun and entertaining talent show performances that I will always remember. I was inspired and moved.  You all have motivated me to continue to use the “Power of We” as I continue my role as the Southeast Region representative of the 2013 YAC.

If you didn’t know, the 2013 YAC will be working year around to support the Líderes program in its efforts to meet the needs of young Latino leaders. At the Summit, the YAC not only had opportunity to meet young Latino leaders from across the country, but we also had the opportunity to network with NCLR Affiliates from each region. Meeting with these Affiliates is essential as it is our job to connect with organizations from so we can   with whom we can explore and enter into  meaningful partnerships.  Continue reading