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Youth Making Some Noise!

Being Bossy Isn’t So Bad!
What it Takes to Inspire Others
Author: Alejandra Vaca

Everyone can become a leader, whether they realize it 
or not. You don’t necessarily have to be Mr. or Ms. 
Popularity, get straight A’s or be in charge of every 
committee in school. Little things like earning 
respect, listening to what others have to say, setting 
good examples for your siblings or simply having 
confidence in what you do can make you a great leader. 
A leader doesn’t need to have all the answers to 
everything or act powerful. 
Leaders encourage others to feel powerful. The 
Educational Academic Outreach Program (EAOP) gave 
middle school and high school students the opportunity 
to experience leadership by participating in a three 
day Summer Leadership Institute (SLI).  The program 
was held at the University of California Santa Cruz, 
Porter College, where students attended daily 
activities and slept in the dorms. “I wanted to 
participate in this conference because I wanted to 
learn more about college,” said Sandra Ibarra, an 
eighth grader at Pajaro Middle School. 
Ten Watsonville High School students (including 
myself) were selected to attend the SLI and acted as 
mentors for 40 middle school students from Rolling 
Hills, Pajaro, E.A. Hall and Lakeview, with another 
ten from San Jose schools. Once these students stepped 
down from their buses they were as excited as we were! 
In the dorms and in groups, students were randomly 
mixed with others whom they probably had never met 
before. Some students had never been away from home 
for so long or spent time at a college. It was up to 
us mentors to make them feel comfortable and get them 
to work together. 
“We got to know the groups better and learned new 
things from different people,” said Ana Méndez, a 
student at Pajaro Middle School. Her friend Sandra 
Ibarra added, “They [the mentors] were all nice and 
encouraged me to be successful.” 
Two mentors, each in charge of four to five students, 
ran the meetings. In our group discussions we tried to 
keep it school-related. My group shared a lot of what 
they did in school, such as giving teachers a hard 
time and making them cry, messing around and getting 
poor grades. But still, the group said that they 
wanted to graduate and succeed. 
Since they mentioned that they wanted to go to 
college, we had them write down a list of  their 
future goals and the steps they were going to take to 
reach them. We helped the group recognize some of the 
obstacles they may have to confront while on the path 
to accomplishing their goals. It was gratifying to see 
them open up to us. 
“I think they were good leaders for us to then become 
like them,” said Crystal Ríos, an eighth grader at 
E.A. Hall Middle School. “I learned that in order to 
achieve a goal you need to work hard. Go through good 
things and bad things, like  obstacles.” 
Our students realized that making good decisions will 
guide them on their path, wherever they wish to go. 
Remember, no matter where you’re from or who you are, 
you can be a leader. You’ve got what it takes. It’s up 
to you to put it into action. The best way to begin is 
by believing in yourself!