The University of New Mexico (UNM) is partnering with the National Hispanic Institute (NHI) to host the 2023 Dionisio “Dennis” Chavez New Mexico Lorenzo de Zavala (LDZ) Youth Legislative Session for high school students statewide.

This event will host 150 top students in a week-long leadership experience on the UNM main campus June 11-18, 2023, and highlight the legacy of the late Dionisio “Dennis” Chavez. The program is made possible with the help of special funding from the New Mexico Legislature introduced by State Senator Michael Padilla.

Youth Leadership

Chavez, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1931-1935 and in the U.S. Senate from 1935-1962, was the first Hispanic person elected to a full term in the Senate and the first senator to be born in New Mexico.

“Since 1982, NHI has presented more than 160 LDZ Youth Legislative Sessions throughout the U.S., Mexico and Latin America,” said Lawrence Roybal, associate vice chancellor for Community Initiatives at the UNM Health Sciences Center.

“NHI is a well-respected nonprofit organization with a 43-year history in national and international youth leadership development and was selected through a statewide competitive process,” stated Rosa Isela Cervantes, director and special advisor to the UNM President on Latina/o Affairs, UNM El Centro de la Raza.

The National Hispanic Institute’s LDZ experience presents an eight-day creative learning program for 10th and 11th grade college-bound students. It engages participants in active learning by having them play key leadership roles using a community engagement and legislative focus.

Through NHI’s signature community equity-building approach, students form communities, develop constituencies and craft strategies to leverage strengths and capacities. “The LDZ experience prompts a personal transformation whereby students feel competent, in control of their life direction, valued in the eyes of others and engaged in adding equity and worth to their community,” said Gloria de Leon,

NHI Co-Founder and architect of the LDZ experience. “It nurtures young minds to engage in proactive solutions as a lifelong process.”

"I am thankful to NHI for once again bringing such an innovative and life-changing experience to New Mexico students. Throughout the week I witnessed powerful leadership, personal growth, and true grit, that will serve these students for the rest of their lives," stated Senator Michael Padilla.

New Mexico high school sophomores and juniors with a 3.2 grade point average or higher are encouraged to apply. Selected students will be named Dennis Chavez Scholars and participate at no charge, other than transportation to and from UNM in Albuquerque, and a $25 application processing fee.

Students are encouraged to promptly submit their online application to the National Hispanic Institute Dionisio “Dennis” Chavez New Mexico LDZ. Admission begins Oct. 7, 2022 and concludes once the program has reached capacity.

For additional information, contact Gloria de Leon at, 512-587-3465 or the National Hispanic Institute at 512-357-6137.