Tappan Zee High School junior Maya Chinnock has been selected to participate in the Angelo Del Toro Puerto Rican / Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute, a collaboration of the New York State Assembly and Senate Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force. With student empowerment as its core purpose, the Institute hosts regional delegation trainings in which participants research local issues, study the state legislative process, parliamentary procedures and selected bills. Each March, delegates from across the state are invited to participate in a three-day conference which includes inter-regional networking, a Mock Assembly session, career development workshops and a student recognition event where scholarships and awards are announced.
Chinnock learned about the Institute through School Counselor Randy Altman. A member of the TZHS Science Honor Society, Chinnock has a keen interest in neuroscience. For the past two years, she has volunteered with the COPS Barn in Nanuet, which provides equine therapy for children and adults with special needs. “I’m a science geek but thought it would be important to make connections outside of school and learn how representation and government works in New York State,” she said.
Throughout this winter, Chinnock has participated in two-hour training sessions during which she has analyzed bills and connected with others across the region. “I’ve made a group of Hispanic friends who share the same interests, and it has made me feel like I’m part of something,” she noted. “Developing leadership skills has been valuable. Learning to make your own path is really fundamental for adolescents. It’s also given me confidence. I’ve learned that it’s OK to speak your mind and use your voice for good and encourage others to use their voices, too.”
“This is a great opportunity for Maya and I am thrilled that she is participating. While I think Maya will benefit from her participation, I am even more confident that the program will benefit from her involvement. She is a well rounded student who will bring a lot to the program and the other participants,” said TZHS Principal Rudy Arietta.