Thirty-four summers ago, a Hanford High School senior-to-be attended a week-long residency program designed to inspire Latino youth to become the future leaders of the Valley and in their communities.

At 17 years old, Joey Castro took what he learned from the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project and embarked on a journey that would lead him to become the first Central Valley native and first Latino president in the106-year history of Fresno State.

Friday, President Joseph I. Castro returns to deliver the keynote talk to 50 Central Valley students who descended on campus for this year’s Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project summer program June 23 to 25.

“The week-long leadership development program helped to inspire me to pursue a career and life focused on serving the community,” said Castro, who attended the program in Sacramento and went on to earn degrees at University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University.

“I met many friends during the conference who have become leaders in the public and private sectors.”

In part, the results of the president’s experiences were evident when earlier this week, he and Fresno State were honored with Fresno Mayor Lee Brand’s Community Partner Award for the their work in the community and the willingness to team up with public and private organizations on projects that have improved the quality of life in Central California.

Castro will deliver the keynote talk at 5:30 p.m. Friday, June 23, at the University Dining Hall on campus for the event that features a variety of workshops and guest speakers and concludes with educational seminars for parents on Sunday.

Another program alum, Fresno City Councilmember Esmeralda Soria (District 1), will also deliver a keynote talk at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the City Hall Chambers in downtown Fresno (2600 Fresno St.). At 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Ismael Herrera, associate director of the Office of Community and Economic Development and Fresno County Office of Education trustee, will speak in the University Dining Hall.

Joining them this weekend will be Fernando Ramirez, president of the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project, and Dr. Gerald Cantu, education program associate of the Dolores Huerta Foundation.

A statewide program — sessions are also held in Sacramento in July and Los Angeles in August — the institute prepares students to become tomorrow’s leaders by participating in California’s economic, social and political development. The program was founded in 1982 and more than 4,000 students have gone through its programs with the support of thousands of volunteers, speakers and supporters across California.

Locally, the program’s San Joaquin Valley Institute was established in 1999.

In the workshops, students develop leadership skills to advocate for Chicano/Latino issues and to spread awareness about community organizations in the Central Valley, debate public policy issues, network with other student leaders and learn about the college application process.

Fresno State’s Outreach and Special Programs office will exhibit on “How to Get to College” and other key core elements on preparing for college specifically for incoming high school sophomores and juniors and their parents (during the Parent Institute Sunday).

For more information, contact Ramirez at or visit and Facebook.