Following months of strategic planning and coordination with our host school, sponsors, applicants, and guest speakers—it was finally time for the first edition of YLC Puerto Rico held in the Baldwin School of Puerto Rico. Having been born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico I could not contain the excitement of having organized a conference that felt so close to home. I attended the Baldwin School of Puerto Rico two years earlier and ever since leaving Puerto Rico to study at Harvard, I promised myself that I would be back to promote positive changes on the island. With 54 highly talented students from over 12 high schools (both public and private), over five countries, and diverse economic backgrounds, this conference felt like the fulfillment of that promise.
From the conference’s inception, the students worked individually and in teams to develop new ideas to address social and economic issues in Puerto Rico by generating creative solutions and programs that they could implement to lead change. The students also enjoyed presentations from some of the top business leaders in Puerto Rico: Jaime Fortuño, Gabriel Hernández, Carlos López-Lay, and Alejandro Silva Díaz provided students with different perspectives on how to become better leaders and provided valuable information about their vision to improve Puerto Rico’s economy and quality of life. The five-day program culminated with the students presenting their project ideas visions to a panel of business executives including Carlos Pepe Rodriguez, Westley Cullen and Ms. Carmen Cedré. The presentations focused on how they would implement the programs to achieve social and economic change. The panel provided the students with their feedback and ideas on how to approach the implementation of programs.
My personal highlight was to witness the students maturing and developing their confidence over the course of the conference. The participants truly challenged themselves to step outside of their comfort zone and when it came to final presentations, our students truly surpassed our expectations. Without a doubt, the entire YLC Puerto Rico teaching staff is highly convinced that these students will be highly successful in their future endeavors to transform Puerto Rico and the world.
-Tiffany Lazo-Cedré, YLC Puerto Rico Director