UMass Boston Students to Expand Leadership Skills at Conference

Office of Communications | June 22, 2012
UMass Boston Students to Expand Leadership Skills at Conference

Five Students to Take Part in Third Latino Leadership Initiative

Five University of Massachusetts Boston students will begin a weeklong intensive leadership program on Saturday.

The students were nominated by faculty and staff members at UMass Boston to participate in the third annual Latino Leadership Initiative (LLI). Based at Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership, the LLI aims to develop the next generation of leaders in the Latino community.

Students selected from universities across the country will work together to create leadership action plans and community service projects, and sharpen their public speaking, decision-making, and negotiation skills. To be eligible, the students had to demonstrate leadership ability and an interest in public service, hold a 3.2 GPA, and commit to complete a post-leadership curriculum.

Abel Rey Cano, a Boston resident who graduated from UMass Boston this month with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, served as coordinator for Casa Latina while a student here.

“I’m very excited to have an opportunity to go there and do some leadership work,” Cano said.

Sabrina Bleakney graduated summa cum laude this month, earning a bachelor’s degree in management with a concentration in accounting. The Marlborough resident and mother of a 7-year-old daughter, Grace, is preparing for the CPA exam. She will be back on campus this fall to begin her master’s degree in accounting.

“I hope to apply the negotiation, public speaking, and community engagement lessons I will receive from the LLI program toward my passion for quality accessible education and financial literacy,” Bleakney said.

Rebecca Arellano, who earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology this month, says she cried tears of joy when she was accepted into the leadership program.

“It means validation for the seemingly endless hours of study I put into my collegiate career, and acknowledgement for the fire inside me to actively make a difference – not just hope for it,” she said.

“Being selected reaffirms my value, ingrained by my mom, to try for the seemingly impossible, because I can do more than I often give myself credit for. It means absolutely everything,” she said.

Arellano, who is from Hawthorne, California, an urban suburb of Los Angeles, says she plans to dedicate herself to the leadership program, volunteer for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, and then move to Melbourne, Australia, or back to Los Angeles to pursue master’s and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology.

The other two students selected for the initiative are Vetto Casado, an international management major, expected to graduate by 2014, and Henry Montas, a management and economics major from Boston expected to graduate in 2014.

“I hope to learn about leadership development topics that will help me through my career, such as public speaking and negotiation skills. In addition, this will be a great opportunity to network with other academically talented students and guest speakers well respected in their fields,” Montas said.

Added Casado, "This nomination has been one of the greatest achievements not only for myself, but my family as well. Coming to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic, I can see the hopes and dreams of my parents being fulfilled through me. It is the reason why they sacrificed so much to get here. It is an incredible feeling to know that."

About UMass Boston
With a growing reputation for innovative research addressing complex urban issues, the University of Massachusetts Boston, metropolitan Boston’s only public university, offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s eight colleges and graduate schools serve nearly 16,000 students while engaging local, national, and international constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service activities. To learn more about UMass Boston, visit

Tags: latino leadership initiative , leadership , public service

Comment on this story

Comments (0)