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Southwest Airlines Helps Next Generation Leaders

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I hope you are interested in some great information about one of the strategic alliances that Southwest Airlines has with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI).  CHCI is the premier Hispanic non-profit and non-partisan 501(c)(3) leadership development organization in the country, whose mission is to Develop the Next Generation of Latino Leaders. Southwest Airlines is the official airline of their leadership development programs, and I have the pleasure of also serving on the CHCI Board with some Hispanic Members of Congress.

CHCI programs are nationally recognized and have successfully developed effective Hispanic leaders in the public, private, and non-profit sectors, as embodied by the CHCI Alumni Association.

The 2010 Summer Congressional Internship Program is made up of 30 students from across the country.  Some characteristics of the class are:

• They come from 15 states and Puerto Rico
• They come from 16 different academic backgrounds – ranging from Anthropology to International Politics to Structural Engineering
• They come from 25 different academic institutions (one attends community college)
• 57% of them are the first ones in their family to go to college
• 76% of them come household incomes of less than $45,000  
• The interns have studies in sixteen different majors
• The interns worked in the offices of 4 senators and 23 representatives

These students worked on Capitol Hill for eight weeks and participated in numerous activities during their time in Washington DC.  Below are some of the highlights from their experience:

• They were involved in a community service build with Habitat for Humanity
• They had a discussion with Judy Woodruff of Public Broadcasting Service on the role of the media
• They met with members of the Hispanic Lobbyist Association and Congressional Hispanic Staffers Association
• They had media training with Lori Montenegro from Telemundo
• They had coalition building events with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and The Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies

CHCI’s Internship Blog Contest:

Southwest Airlines also sponsors the intern blog contest, which provides the winner a round trip ticket! This summer’s interns shared their Washington, D.C. experience through weekly blogs that discussed their personal and professional encounters and talked about policy issues and leadership.  Below are some excerpts from the CHCI Intern’s blogs:

Samuel Gomez from Acton, Massachusetts reflects on the Ropes Course challenge during Orientation Week: We glance around at each other in astonishment. At that moment, we realize how resourceful and determined we really are. At that moment, we realize that if we work together, we can overcome any obstacle. This is only the beginning.

Felipe Hernandez from Paramount, California writes about his first week working on the hill and how he faces obstacles: The only way that I could overcome these challenges was by directly confronting them.  I never back down and I am not afraid to fail because as my Congresswoman said, ‘When you fail that is a success because you learn how not to do it and you are closer to achieving your goal.’

Eduardo Gonzalez from Laredo, Texas writes about how the CHCI internship influenced him: I return with enthusiasm, with joy and with an eye focused in the future; a future with many opportunities, many doors, many options from where to choose from.  I return to encourage young people not only dream, but to plan. Not only to plan, but to act. Not only to act, but to apply.

To read all of their blog posts and to truly see how we at Southwest Airlines are making a tremendous difference in the ability of these young individuals to participate in this once in a lifetime experience, please visit HERE.