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Student Leadership Academy
Developing Leaders for a Changing World

New York State Model Senate Session Project Participants/Videos 2009

45The Model New York State Senate Session Project
Participants from Hostos Community College 2009
Issue for Debate: Fair Share Tax Reform

Hostos breaks its own 2008 record and sends eleven students to the 2009 New York State Model Senate!

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Mario Guinea Mario Guinea (R) represented District 57 and sat in the seat of New York State Senator Catherine Young. Mario’s presentation before his colleagues was so powerful that it left a distinct impression on everyone in the room, and it was remarked upon that his voice being heard in the chambers for the first time was reminiscent of the voice of Eugenio Maria De Hostos. Mario is part of the Student Orientation Services Team here at the college, working to enable incoming students with the skills the need to succeed in college. He is also a major contributor to the community service outreach activities that go on in and around the Bronx. Mario is enrolled in the Liberal Arts and Science program.

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Edgar Campos Edgar Campos (R) represented District 59 and sat in the seat of New York State Senator Dale M. Volker. Edgar was brave enough to address his colleagues and the assembled gallery of spectators in the Senate hall in his native tongue; Spanish.  Edgar is a new member of the Hostos Student Leadership Academy’s Emerging Leader Program and despite being very shy when he first started participating in the workshops and training sessions, he has slowly begun to climb out of his shell and take a much more proactive role on campus and within his community.

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Viola Burgess Viola Burgess (R) represented District 2 and sat in the seat of New York State Senator John J. Flanagan. Viola’s impassioned plea to common sense was one of the more boisterous presentations made at the 2009 Model Senate and it fired up many of the other model senators. Viola is an activist, a mother and a determined leader. As A member of the Hostos Student Leadership Academy’s Student Orientation Services Team, Viola led the way in recruiting students to take an active role in the Leadership Academy, Clubs and Organizations and the Student Government. It was her goal, as a student at Hostos, to be able to provide vital information to every student on any topic that might arise. Viola was a participant in the CUNY Ambassadors Program and the CUNY Corps Program. She graduated in June of this year and will continue her studies at Lehman College.

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Norma Sooko Norma Sooko (R) represented District 56 and sat in the seat of New York State Senator Joseph E. Robach. Norma wowed the audience and her fellow model senators with her speech, which was presented in a style of political rhetoric that bordered on filibuster. For her presentation, she garnered a standing ovation from her fellow model senators. Norma is a dedicated Christian and a socially conscious woman who was a member of the Hostos Student Leadership Academy’s Ambassador Program. She often works with the homeless, the hungry and the needy to help them to overcome obstacles in their lives and as an Ambassador she engaged in similar initiatives with her fellow Academy members. Norma graduated in June of this year and will be attending New York University. She was a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society and she was also a participant at the CUNY Corps Kickoff Event with Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

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Etna Abreu Etna Abreu (D) represented District 10 and sat in the seat of New York State Senator Shirley L. Huntley.  At the 2009 Model Senate Etna strongly supported the bill and asked her fellow model senators to give careful consideration to not enacting it. Although quiet and contemplative, Etna is one of the most intelligent women to ever represent the college at the Model Senate. Etna began her studies at Hostos Community College enrolled in the Intensive ESL Program and successfully graduated this past June as not only a model senator, but as a Hostos Student Ambassador, a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society and the winner of a set of scholarships. She will continue her studies at Lehman College next year. Etna is married and the mother of two boys.

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Edwin Martinez Edwin Martinez (D) represented District 3 and sat in the seat of New York State Senator Brian X. Foley. Edwin joined the Hostos Student Leadership Academy in 2009 and was immediately excited and intrigued with the idea of being able to participate at the New York State Model Senate Session Project. AS a result he wrote a fabulous essay to go along with his application and he was given the opportunity that he so desired. Edwin spoke eloquently about the state of the economy and the rights of those who make a few fewer dollars to benefit from the Fair Share Tax Reform ideal. Edwin is a great student and an even better student representative. He strives to make contributions to those around him every day of his life.

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Khadian Hamilton Khadian Hamilton (R) represented District 8 and sat in the seat of New York State Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. Khadian was a little bit nervous for her first major public speaking appearance, but after overcoming some early jitters she made a fantastic presentation, (which included an exclamation point at the end.) Khadian was one of the first group of students to be part of the Emerging Leaders Program at Hostos Community College and she was excited to have the opportunity no only to be a part of the Hostos Student Leadership Academy, but also to speak at the Model Senate. Khadian was also an executive officer in the West Indian Association and graduated in June 2009.

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Yocasta Polanco Yocasta Polanco (R) represented District 39 and sat in the seat of New York State Senator William J. Larkin, Jr. Yocasta fulfilled her lifelong dream by appearing at the New York State Model Senate Session in 2009. From a very early age, Yocasta knew that she had the power to move people with her voice and her ideas. She is a passionate orator and has always wanted to play a role in local politics, so getting the chance to speak on the State Senate Floor was a thrill for her. Yocasta was a member of the Hostos Leadership Academy’s Ambassador Program as well as serving as a senator for the Student Government Association for the 2008-2009 academic year. Yocasta has been involved with local government and has supported the campaigns of Assembly Member
Nelson L. Castro, Council Member Maria Baez and Carlos Sierra. She has also worked with Assembly Member Adriano Espaillat’s Office to help Dominican residents of the Bronx to live better lives. Yocasta was a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society and graduated in June 2009. She will continue her studies at Lehman College in the fall, studying Early Childhood Education. Yocasta is married and is the mother of two girls. Yocasta Polanco on September 14th was elected Female State Committee - 86th Assembly District.

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Maria Delgado Maria Delgado (D) represented District 26 and sat in the seat of New York State Senator Liz Kruegar. In her second appearance at the New York State Model Senate, Maria expressed her position is a succinct and efficient manner and in return appeared to be a target of many of her Republican rivals for her rather unique position on the issue of Fair Share Tax Reform. Maria is currently enrolled in the Nursing Program at Hostos and she has been a Hostos Student Ambassador for two years and will serve as a senator in the Student Government Association for the 2009-2010 academic year. Maria has received praise for her commitment to service and the City University of New York from CUNY Trustees Hugo Morales and Philip Alfonso Berry. (This was Maria’s second appearance at the Model Senate. She also was a participant in 2008.)

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Yissely Ortiz Yissely Ortiz (D) represented District 29 and sat in the seat of New York State Senator Thomas Duane. In her second appearance at the Model Senate Yissely spoke diligently about the need for reform in the way taxes are collected and utilized in New York State. (Although she caught a case of the giggles at the beginning of her presentation, she brought all of her points together very nicely at the end.) Yissely is currently being considered for participation in the 2009-2010 cohort of the CUNY Leadership Academy Fellows Program and has been a Hostos Student Ambassador since February of 2008. Yissely also poignantly sang the Dominican National Anthem at the SOMOS El Futuro Gala the same day as her appearance on the State Senate floor. (This was Yissely’s second appearance at the Model Senate. She also was a participant in 2008.)

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Liliete Lopez Liliete Lopez (R) represented District 55 and sat in the seat of New York State Senator James S. Alessi. In her second appearance at the New York State Model Senate, Liliete managed to continue to have impact on all of the senators that she joined with in opposition to the Fair Share Tax Reform bill. Her passionate plea to valuing the rights of her constituents and her challenge to her fellow model senators to stand up for what was right had a lot of people rewriting their speeches. Liliete is the former President of the Ability Awareness Club, the Chair of a Committee of the CUNY Coalition for Students with Disabilities and a Hostos Student Ambassador since 2007. She was also elected to serve as a senator, as a part of the Student Government Association for the 2009-2010 academic year.

Liliete has a dream of studying Political Science and making change both her at home and around the world. (This was Liliete’s second appearance at the Model Senate. She also was a participant in 2008.)

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Jason Libfeld Jason Libfeld, Student Leadership Coordinator
At the 2009 New York State Model Senate Session Project, the Coordinator for Leadership Development at Hostos Community College was invited and delivered a heartfelt invocation, which called on the Model Senators to stand on the shoulders of their ancestors as they debated the topic of Fair Share Tax Reform in the majestic State Senate Chamber.

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Model Senate logoThe Model New York State Senate Session Project is an annual leadership development program, run by the ETR Internship Program in collaboration with the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force of the New York State Legislature and the State University of New York. Each year, more then 60 CUNY and SUNY students are brought together for a series of intensive training seminars on stare policy formulation, legislative processes, representation and leadership. CUNY students are selected for participation from their home campuses through the offices of their respective college presidents, provosts and student affairs officers. The ETR Internship Program coordinates the selection process for CUNY. The seminars include visits from prominent NYS legislators and guest lecturers. The program culminates with students debating bills on the floor of the New York State Senate chamber in Albany. Participating students are also given the opportunity to compete for scholarship awards. Through participation in the process of legislative decision-making, students further their organizational, research and public speaking skills by means of a model legislative seminar. By working on a legislative agenda that they develop, the students play an integral role in their pursuit of a public service education. Moreover, they are introduced to a “hands-on” approach to involvement in the political and policy processes that affect them, their families and their communities.

For More Information on the New York State Model Senate Session Project, or to fill out an application, please visit: http://www.etrinternship.org/html/modelsen.htm

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