The Hispanic Youth Leadership Academy
By Erica Granados-De La Rosa
The Hispanic Youth Leadership Academy (HYLA) offers something that cannot be found in any other aspect of The United Methodist Church (UMC); a place and time dedicated to nurturing and walking with United Methodist Latino youth as they begin their journey toward being empowered future leaders. I participated in the initial group of the HYLA - an initiative of the Mexican American Program at Perkins School of Theology/Southern Methodist University - and was the first graduate of the three-year curriculum.
HYLA gives Latino/a youth not only a sense of leadership but also of cultural and spiritual identity. They feel empowered and a little more confident in where they stand as a youth leaders in the UMC, their community, their people, and this country.
Because HYLA is truly a program that molds lives and is a vital asset to the UMC; I have chosen to support the academy as a youth mentor and facilitator. As part of that responsibility, I have helped HYLA organize and facilitate many trainings and retreats at the local church, district and conference levels to promote education and social concerns within the UMC and our Latino community. Currently I serve on the advisory board of HYLA, which is helping to transition the academy from being a regional to national organization.
In the summer 2007, the academy will train 54 youth and graduate its largest class. We have youth involved in a variety opportunities such as working with MARCHA, being trained as lay missioners with the National Plan on Hispanic/Latino (NPH/LM) ministry, and preparing processes for candidacy into ordained ministry.
The Hispanic Youth Leadership Academy (HYLA) is made possible by NPH/LM grants to seminaries. The grant comes from the General Board of Higher Education and ministry and is matched by Perkins School of Theology. Personally, HYLA is one of those programs that I hope becomes embedded in the permanent structure of the UMC because it is profoundly needed within our church and more so in our Hispanic community.
Erica Granados-De La Rosa is a 2006 graduate from the Hispanic Youth Leadership Academy. She will attend Loyola University Chicago this Fall with a Women in Leadership scholarship. She expects to earn a degree in Sociology and pursue a master's and doctorate degrees in education.
The Mexican American Program at Perkins School of Theology
The Hispanic Youth Leadership Academy is a pilot program that provides mentoring around the topic of calling and an annual summer academy on topics such as Christian discipleship, vocational discernment, leadership training, how to apply for admission to college/university or seminary, and Hispanic history and culture. HYLA is open to high school and undergraduate college students. For more information, contact the office of the Mexican American Program at (214-768-2265) or Hyla@smu.edu at Perkins School of Theology.