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Tuesday, June 18, 2024
The Observer

Institute for Latino Studies offers program of service and immersion

The Institute for Latino Studies (ILS) offers the Cross-Cultural Leadership Program (CCLP), an eight-week immersive program in the Latino communities of Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. The specialized leadership program started nearly 10 years ago by Center for Social Concerns founder the late Rev. Donald P. McNeill.

“It's really a transformative experience," said program director Karen Richman. “The students are never the same. It helps many of them figure out what they want to do next, for many it consolidates their academic and career plans, and for others it shows I don't wanna do this I'm gonna take a right turn.”

According to the ILS website, the program, which takes place during the summer, primarily consists of students participating in internship and service opportunities in urban Latino communities in the United States. Different communities and service sites are tailored to unique students interests.

Students interested in law are sent to sites like the Library of Congress in Washington, medicine students to sites like the Alivio Medical Center in Chicago and art students to sites like the Self-Help Graphics initiative in Los Angeles, Richman said.

“We get pre-meds, business majors, arts and letters majors, occasionally an engineer,” Ms. Richman said. “It’s a mix — reflective of the diversity in our Latino Studies program.”

According to the ILS website, on top of the internship and service requirement, the program also includes a three-credit summer service-learning course. Students are required to attend orientation sessions, keep up with weekly readings during the program, participate in weekly classes in their assigned cities, give a final presentation at the end of the summer and conclude with a paper synthesizing their studies and service project.

In each city there is a Notre Dame professor and a “mentor” graduate of Notre Dame and the ILS working as a professional in the area that run the weekly class together for the students assigned to their city. In Washington, the mentor works on Capitol Hill assisting a congressperson, and in Chicago the mentor is engaged in the business world, Richman said.

According to the ILS website, students participating in a CCLP receive a $1,100 stipend for food and transportation costs and a $2,500 scholarship towards their student account upon their return to school in the fall. Payment for travel is based on need and availability of funding.

The application, which is live now on the Institute for Latino Studies website, is due Jan. 29. It is a fairly competitive program, Richman said, with about one out of every three students being accepted.

“It’s a really great opportunity to grow, learn, give and get this hands on experience in a Latina community. It’s a great growth experience,” Richman said.