Greenville youth heads to UCLA for leadership summit

Maudesty Merino of Greenville is set to attend the National Ambassadors Leadership Summit at UCLA on June 27. Photo submitted

At the end of June, Greenville’s Maudesty Merino will board a plane for the first time in her life and take off for Los Angeles International Airport where she’ll meet up with representatives of the Ambassador Leadership Summit who will whisk her away to UCLA for a week.

“I’m excited and nervous,” said Merino.

The process of attending started when Merino’s English teacher, Christy Rose at Lassen High School, recommended her for a spot in the annual conference Ambassador Leadership Summits. Merino received a letter in the mail inviting her to attend.

“Ambassador Leaders are student leaders who are recognized by their teachers, parents and peers as someone who possesses leadership potential, and who cares about their community,” notes the website for the summit.

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The summits are open to students in sixth through twelfth grades from around the world and take place at four locations: Harvard Law School, Yale University, Johns Hopkins University, and University of California, Los Angeles — the only one on the west coast.

“With students coming from as many as 140 countries, the summits are a melting pot of cultures and ideas, providing new global perspectives for the challenges and opportunities this generation will face, and how each of them can make a difference,” claims the Ambassadors Leadership Summit website.

Students are recommended by teachers who see leadership potential in the student — it’s a leadership training camp.

Students collaborate with other students on projects and are exposed to subjects and explore possible career and college paths. One workshop called Creating a Leadership Legacy takes place at the Disney California Adventure Park. Students are expected to develop community action plans and participate in hands-on community service projects.

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Students are expected to apply what they’ve learned at the summit back into their home communities.

Thanks to family, friends, local businesses and tribes, Merino was able to fundraise for the $3,000 conference fee. That fee includes three meals a day, staying in the dorms, and entry fees to various places they’ll be taken in southern California, such as the Museum of Tolerance in West Los Angeles.

Susanville Rancheria, Roundhouse Council (Merino has participated in programs there since preschool) and the Breaux Group each made a donation. Merino designed T-shirts and, with her dad’s help, made silk-screened T-shirts and sold them at the American Indian Education Conference.

“Her dad and I are super proud of Maudesty. She knows what she wants in life and she goes out there and does what she needs to do to get it,” said her mother Mary Joseph. Still, mother and daughter both have that nervousness that comes with being without family across the state for the first time.

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She’s traveled with her family on road trips to Native American dances and conferences through out the state.

Merion has an academic history of self-motivation. She is a voracious reader and an autodidact learner.

Merino will be a senior at Lassen High School next year and plans to attend college for environmental studies.