Youth from our Affiliate Latino U College Access (LUCA) attended their first Changemakers Summit this year, but they were prepared to work the rooms like any other attendee. The organization and these students tell us about their experience at Changemakers.
By UnidosUS Affiliate Latino U College Access
Last March, our Founder and Strategic Growth Officer, Shirley Acevedo Buontempo, along with three of our Scholars—Andrés Castillo Quintana, Princeton University ’18; Katya Juarez, Middlebury College ’24, and Kate Hidalgo, University of Rochester ’25 – traveled to Washington, DC to attend the UnidosUS Changemakers Summit: “Redefine the Moment: Leading on Our Shared Future.”
The event brought together leaders committed to advocating for issues important to the Latino community. Our Ambassadors heard from policy experts on panels discussing the topics of health, education, economic policy, and immigration. A special policy briefing from White House officials helped educate them on the most important issues facing our community today.
The Summit concluded by inviting participants to meet with their government officials.
LUCA was honored to meet with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía, on Capitol Hill to advocate for Latino inclusion in our nation’s recovery. Scholars shared with Senator Schumer the critical importance of increasing educational opportunities and financial aid for first-gen Latino youth.
Tell us about your time in DC! What is your favorite memory from the summit?
Katya: My favorite memory has to be when we all got to advocate with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. The fact that we didn’t just get to meet Senator Schumer but also got to talk about the issues that are plaguing our community was beyond important.
What is something that inspired you the most?
Andrés: “How did we get here?” This is a question that we so often ask ourselves as first-generation Latino professionals, and it is now clear to me that the answer lies in the resilience of our families, our commitment to education, and our love for a country that made our dreams possible.
What were some of the key issues discussed at the summit? How do they resonate with you?
Kate: I could relate to the issues of racial equity and education. As a first-gen, low-income Latina, I had to overcome many obstacles during my educational career. Racial equity is so important; this means helping marginalized communities obtain the same resources that others have; that way, they can have a chance at the same opportunities. LUCA made those resources available to me and opened the door to so many opportunities.
What does being a “Changemaker” mean to you?
Kate: A Changemaker is a person of any age, gender, race, or culture that aspires to bring about change in society that will benefit the whole. The changemaker that I aspire to be is someone who utilizes their skills and privileges to advocate for and represent marginalized communities.
Andrés: Being a Changemaker means rising above adversity to become the change you wish to see, leading with love in every aspect of your work, and believing you can so that others can follow in your footsteps.
Katya: Being a Changemaker means breaking the cycle of generational poverty, taking the opportunities that my parents gave me by immigrating to this country, and advocating for Latinos on a greater platform.
Thank you to UnidosUS for inviting Shirley and our amazing Scholars to attend the summit! We were so grateful for the opportunity to be advocates of Latino student success in higher education while proudly representing Latino U College Access and New York.
Learn more about the impactful work of UnidosUS Affiliate Latino U College Access here.