Two University of New Mexico students, Cindy Nava and Karina Ortega, joined 45 other young leaders from across the region this summer at a four-day training in New Orleans, La. as part of a competitive leadership development program led by People For the American Way Foundation.

It was the first training of the year-long Young People for (YP4) Fellowship, a rigorous program focused on identifying, engaging, and empowering young progressive leaders. The fellowship equips college students with the skills and resources necessary to create lasting change on their campuses and in their communities.

The training’s curriculum included sessions such as “Personal Narrative: Telling Your Story,” “Approaches to Social Change,” and “Building Power to Win,” as well as presentations from partner organizations and fellowship alumni. At the training, which Fellows described as “incredible” and a “wonderful experience,” Cindy Nava and Karina Ortega represented UNM and learned tools for effective progressive leadership on campus and in the local community.

“The Young People 4 summer training for the National Fellowship program was absolutely life changing. Not only did I get the opportunity to travel to New Orleans, Louisiana and stay at Loyola University, but I had the opportunity to meet the uprising leaders of the Country,” said Nava. “The cohort at the South regional training was among the most impressive individuals I have ever met with an outstanding sense of social justice combined with passion, hard work and initiative to lead. These students both from State and Ivy League schools came together like family and created an atmosphere in which the energy and passion could be felt as soon as you stepped into the training room.”

Nava and Ortega attended numerous workshops and anti-racism trainings that allowed the cohort to identify similarities from across the country.

“The opportunities that I am being exposed to through YP4 are amazing and therefore reinforce my professional and academic goals as I finish my final year as an undergrad,” said Nava. “During the YP4 training, I was able to reinforce my goals of one day running for office and work towards the betterment of our State and people.”

The 2013-2014 fellowship class of 152 talented young leaders hails from 33 states and is made up of young people from community colleges, state universities, historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, tribal colleges, liberal arts colleges, and Ivy League universities, as well as young people carrying out community work.

“Each of these young leaders has the passion to make meaningful, lasting change on their campus and in their community,” said Joy Lawson, director of Young People For.  “Through these trainings, they are building the skills needed to amplify and sustain that work.  They return to their individual schools and cities even better equipped to lead.”

“I am thrilled and look forward to presenting the blueprint for my social justice model revolving around the lottery scholarship at the YP4 National summit in Washington,DC next January,” Nava added.