Fellow's Corner: Developing Young Leaders through Personal Stories

Zessna Garcia-Rios

American Dream Fellow 2015- 2016


From the beginning of our time at the Cisneros Center, we have talked about the importance of developing young leaders in the community to lead immigrant integration efforts now and in the future. There are many leadership programs out there to follow, but as an individual with a journalist background, I firmly believe personal stories or testimonies can shape an individual greatly.

While planning the schedule for the American Dream Leaders, our development program for college-aged leaders, it became very clear to me that we have great community partners and leaders to learn from in the area. Immediately names of community leaders, movers and shakers if you will, came to mind. A community leaders speaker series, which allows students to learn directly from community members of diverse backgrounds, came to be.

This semester we have had community speakers touch on the importance of partnerships, mentorship, networking, and communication in a multicultural environment. Through each community leader, our Leaders learn first hand about personal experiences of what works and how to overcome issues in professional settings. Our Leaders are learning from professionals and experts in their respective fields and get to have open discussions about leadership best practices. I am incredibly proud of our American Dream Leaders program and the young women that stepped up this semester and our Fall semester Leaders.

For me, leadership is a perpetual learning process. Inviting community members to speak to our Leaders has also taught me that "everyday is a school day": you never stop learning. I am thankful for all of our speakers and I hope they all understand the incredible impact they have had in our Leaders and their development.

Cisneros Center for New Americans


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