H-ton Senior Participates in Albany Leadership Institute
March 22, 2023
Brenda Jandres-Benitez is a hardworking young woman. The Huntington High School senior along with many other promising young leaders from around New York recently participated in the Angelo Del Toro Puerto Rican/Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute in Albany and impressed everyone there.
“The Institute affords Hispanic youth greater insight into the dynamic nature of state government, provides a forum for students to share ideas and concerns impacting the Hispanic community and offers participants the opportunity to develop leadership skills,” according to a program profile.
Throughout the weekend, Ms. Jandres-Benitez participated in several workshops and breakout sessions. She engaged in the legislative briefings and a mock session of the Assembly, during which participants discussed and debated several actual bills proposed previously within the State Assembly.
“At first I was nervous due to being the only one from Huntington UFSD to go and it was my first time out without my parents,” Ms. Jandres-Benitez said. “It was actually amazing, especially the little parties after each event. I loved how we could appreciate our culture without being judged. Everyone was diverse and you could burst out speaking Spanish or English and everyone understood you.”
The leadership conference was a real learning experience for the teenager and it helped her further discern her career plans.
“I wasn’t really into politics prior to going to the conference, but when I went, I realized politics is not what I want in my future,” Ms. Jandres-Benitez said. “I don’t believe it was a worthless experience because I met some really great people and though we may have needed a little bit more training, we all had fun. It made me narrow down what I want to do in college so it was a win-win.”
Ms. Jandres-Benitez started her trek through Huntington UFSD as a Flower Hill Primary School kindergartener. She spent fourth grade at Jefferson and then fifth and sixth at Woodhull before heading off to Finley.
“Someone who has always been there for me is Sra. [Elizabeth] Casazza, who’s been encouraging me since freshman year,” Ms. Jandres-Benitez said. “I would also say Mr. [Kenneth] Donovan, Mrs. [Sarah] Buchalter, and Sra. [Lorena] Hickey have encouraged me and helped me out. My plan for the future is to become a nurse. I might study at Molloy University in Rockville Centre.”