Leavin’ On a Jet Plane: Kenya Gaspar Travels to D.C. with CHCI

KenyaName: Kenya Gaspar

GEAR UP 4 LA School: Belmont High School (LAAMPS), 11th grade

Summer Program: CHCI R2L NextGen

Attending the CHCI R2L NextGen program was a truly life changing experience. It opened my eyes to civic engagement as one of the most important things as a person living in the U.S. through the experiences of a variety of amazing and empowering Latinos. Every day was a new surprise. I loved that we would have a diversity of activities planned for us, whether it’d be visiting memorials, talking to the Latino leaders in Congress, or visiting the gallery in the House of Representatives, it was all truly unimaginable. Every time I would walk around in the monuments, I would think back to sitting in my classroom imagining someday visiting D.C., only to realize my dream had come true thanks to GEAR UP 4 LA. None of this would have been possible if I didn’t have GEAR UP in my school. My biggest takeaway from the whole experience was that if we as people, Latinos especially, do not speak up about what is bothering us in our communities, if we don’t go out and make our voices heard, then nobody will listen, and the problems will only worsen.