This past spring, the Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs (MCA) virtually hosted the 2021 Multicultural Youth Leadership Day. This was a virtual experience that invited students, educators, and community partners to empower youth through civic engagement. The theme of the event was “Navigating Your Civic Power,” chosen to encourage students to explore ways to become involved in their communities and find their passions. This was accomplished through multiple breakout sessions, presenters, activities, and performances that highlighted how young people can be at the forefront of positive movements in order to reshape civic life.
The event kicked off with a Land Acknowledgement from Kaika Cole, a member of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe. Remarks from keynote speakers like Meligha Garfield, the director for the Black Cultural Center (BCC) at the University of Utah, and Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox, set the tone for the rest of the event. A musical performance from the talented and local cellist, Aisha Zuiter, helped introduce the themes that would be discussed the rest of the day.
The first theme of the day was teaching students to Navigate Personal Identities. With diverse representation and shared stories being key to inclusive environments, it was important to teach the youth how understanding one’s identity is a strength and contribution to civic engagement. This content was delivered through a roundtable discussion with young local leaders—Joe Busby, Khadija Kele, Alonso Reyna Rivarola, and Danielle Corbett—who introduced concepts such as self-love and intersectionality.
The next learning objective and breakout session focused on teaching students to Navigate a Cause They’re Passionate About. This session gave students the tools to identify what their passion is, construct a passion statement, and identify a cause they are passionate about affecting change in. With remarks from MCA’s own Claudia Loayza, as well as a video compilation of community partners explaining their passions, students were able to come away with a better understanding of how to let their interests fuel their actions, spur new ideas, and develop deep connections.
The last theme tied all the information together, by showing students How to Engage in a Cause. After giving students the necessary tools to explore interests and their personal identities, the next step was to help them identify ways to apply them in real life. This was achieved by having community partners describe the unique ways that they are civically engaged. Adam Conte, Ciriac Alvarez Valle, and Emilio Manuel Camu, all spoke to students and showed them how to get involved, and that there is not one way to engage a cause they are passionate about.
Additional speeches from Lt. Governor Deidre M. Henderson, performances from the Jingle Dress Project, prize drawings, and more, not only inspired the youth but made this Leadership Day an engaging, community-building, and successful event.
With opportunities like these, the division hopes to create a pipeline for education and youth leadership for multicultural students to promote a more inclusive and welcoming state.
We invite you to learn more about our leadership events and programming at multicultural.utah.gov/youthleadership. Want to relive Leadership Day or experience it for the first time? You can watch a recording of this year’s event on our YouTube Channel.