“I understand the theme for Youth Leadership Academy is Care, Connect, Change,” said Cal State Fullerton President Fram Virjee as he welcomed about 70 high-school age students along with about 150 parents, friends and community members to campus Feb. 23. “That’s great, because at Cal State Fullerton we teach, mentor and care for our students. We provide them with a rich diversity of perspectives and backgrounds so they connect to one another. And we prepare confident graduates who can excel and change the world.”
Youth Leadership America is a nonprofit organization founded by CSUF graduate John Nguyen. The organization hosts semester-long programs dedicated to help high school students develop student leadership and interpersonal skills. With the mission to cultivate the next generation of servant leaders, YLA strives to instill in students the values of responsibility and active participation in the community through efforts such as community service projects and fundraisers. The Feb. 23 event was the graduation ceremony for students who had recently completed this program.
“As we gather here this evening, some of you may be asking, ‘How much of a difference can I really make?’,” said Virjee. “Some may say, ‘You’re just kids.’ Don’t listen to those voices. Over the past few weeks, we have witnessed, firsthand, high school students who are bright, courageous and articulate leaders.
“I see those leadership qualities in you,” he continued. “While your experience in YLA will open doors, it is up to you to walk through them.
“I am extending a personal invitation to each of you. Study hard. Take the right classes. Do well and apply to Cal State Fullerton. We are waiting for you.”