Multicultural Youth Leadership Day Highlights the Importance of Authentic Leadership

Story by: Claudia Loayza, Photos by: Nicole Tyana Dossous

Leaders can be found anywhere, and according to Dean Elizabeth Kronk Warner of the S.J. Quinney College of Law and a citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians , anyone can find leadership traits within themselves and, through education, you can empower others.

Over 300 high schoolers from across the state of Utah gathered at the S.J. Quinney College of Law to learn more about civic engagement and leadership during the eighth Multicultural Youth Leadership Day. Youth were given a powerful opening message by Dean Kronk Warner when she emphatically shared, “You belong here.”

“You belong here.”

Dean Elizabeth Kronk Warner of the S.J. Quinney College of Law in her address to students

This year’s conference theme focused on finding “The Leader In Me,” and breakout sessions, presented by Voices for Utah Children and UServeUtah, spoke to how students could be community advocates now and find pathways to public service.

Tony Peralta, student body officer at Kearns High School, provided a relatable message addressed to students about how pride in one’s heritage or culture engenders strong leadership.

Pictured: Tony Peralta

“You lead that change. And because of how different you are it makes whatever you are working towards that much better because it makes environments so welcoming,” Peralta said while encouraging his peers to get involved in their respective schools and communities.

A resonating panel composed of leaders across fields and experiences further discussed how to be a leader while authentically being yourself. Councilmember Natalie Pinkney of South Salt Lake, Councilmember Jake Fitisemanu of West Valley City, Guillermina Pelaez of the Utah Governor’s Office of Energy Development, and Ramzi Hamady of the Utah Juvenile Defender Attorneys spoke life and empowerment over the students, touching on subjects from cultural awareness in the workplace to how to handle and address mistakes.

“You are who you are. We all have something to contribute and if it doesn’t fit the model, theory, or the established way of doing things that’s okay, because your ways are still valid and [you] can add that value to whatever [you’re] doing in life,” Councilmember Fitisemanu said.

“It hurts people more when you aren’t true to yourself” Councilmember Pinkney shared. “When you decide not to be yourself then the world has just missed a key component that can help us move forward,” Pinkney said.

“When you decide not to be yourself then the world has just missed a key component that can help us move forward.”

Councilmember Natalie Pinkney of South Salt Lake in her panel remarks

By bringing together civic learning and community resources, the 2020 Multicultural Youth Leadership Day left an impact on students and educators to prioritize uplifting communities through equity and advocacy. Andrew Busath, educator at Kearns High School, shared, “We attend many conferences each year and this one was definitely one of the best. [T]he whole thing was very engaging and relevant!”

To learn more about the Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs’ youth leadership programming, visit https://multicultural.utah.gov/youthleadership, and to watch recordings of the general sessions of this year’s Multicultural Youth Leadership Day, visit http://bit.ly/myld2020.