June 5, 2017

On June 2, the YLGW Class of 2017 celebrated their graduation from LGW’s Youth Leadership Program. Over the course of six months, 33 high school students from diverse backgrounds and schools—throughout the Greater Washington region— participated in a series of interactive programming, designed to cultivate leadership skills and develop confidence.

YGLW Co-Leaders Margarita Rozenfeld (’10), and Fred Walls (’12) facilitated the monthly YLGW program days, incorporating activities centered around specific issues concerning young adults including social action, inclusiveness, and mental health. LGW Members and outside speakers also donated their time, leading issue-based workshops for YLGW students. This component of the program offered a different perspective on issues in the region and the professional world.

During the morning session of the Closing Day,  students were instructed to look back at their experience in YLGW by re-reading letters written to their future selves which they crafted at the start of the program. The exercise was a great way for the Youth Leaders to think back on the hopes, goals, and fears they carried at the beginning of their YLGW journey. The significant growth of each student was evident after hearing letters read aloud. Those students who were previously afraid to speak in public or network with their fellow YLGW participants are now more outgoing, open minded, and confident young adults.

The final morning activity encouraged Youth Leaders to think about their best attributes and examine value systems. The backdrop of the Pepco Edison Gallery facilitated a creative space for each student to design artwork, representing their definition of a leader. The diversity within the art pieces conveyed the uniqueness of every YLGW student and the meaningful role that this program has played in their lives, helping them to see their full potential and strive for their goals.

Transitioning to the afternoon, NBC4’s Leon Harris, opened the YLGW graduation by delivering an inspirational keynote address, speaking openly with students about issues of self-esteem, taking risks and facing challenges. Youth Leaders sincerely enjoyed the honest conversation, some considering it the highlight of the ceremony.

Immediately following the keynote, Co-Leaders Margarita and Fred presented students with certificates of completion.  LGW Board Chair Joe Budzynski (’06) was also present to offer congratulations to each YLGW participant.  Upon receiving their certificates, students expressed -in front of friends and family members- how they have changed after participating in the YLGW program.

"Through this program, I have learned that anyone can be a leader if you tap into your leadership potential."- Vanshika V., YLGW Youth Leader, age 16

“This experience was very valuable. I am applying what I learned, and I am so thankful to have met new people and made connections.”-London H., YLGW Youth Leader, age 16

"Leadership isn't just leading others; it's leading yourself." -Eric M., YLGW Youth Leader, age 17 

Youth Leadership Greater Washington is a launchpad, igniting a spark of confidence that encourages young adults to take on additional leadership roles in their schools and communities. We hope that following the YLGW Program, students continue to believe in their potential and strive to make a positive impact in the region and beyond.

Thank you to our fantastic 2017 Co -Leaders, LGW leadership, and gracious host, Pepco Edison Galleryfor providing a beautiful space for the festivities and continued partnership. Congratulations to the YLGW Class of 2017!

Please view photos from the event here.

The Youth Leadership Closing Ceremony and Graduation occurred on 06/02/17.