Madina Zermeño
High School Intern

Growing up in the border city of San Diego, California, and having exposure to four different languages as a child, I always had a love for diversity, and never allowed labels to define me or anyone else.  

My journey started at the WorldLink Youth Town Meeting (YTM) where 750 high school students from both Baja California and San Diego gathered together with one purpose in mind: to build, develop, and maintain peace within their communities. This conference gave youth an opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns for different local and global issues, and to build intimate connections with other students and leaders from local organizations who shared mutual aspirations. Both years I attended, I witnessed youth changemakers developing real solutions to real problems.

After falling in love with the message and vision behind WorldLink and YTM, I decided to play a bigger role in my community. I took what I learned and created a youth empowerment club at my high school, called IGNITE - an acronym for Individual Goal-setters Nourishing Inspiration Through Empowerment, our motto being “I Give up Nothing, I Transform Everything.” Through different youth empowerment events, we were able to partner with organizations including the City of Chula Vista Cultural Arts Commission and the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation. Within months I was awarded the Sri Chinmoy Oneness Home Peace Run TorchBearer Award, which has also been awarded to notable peace activists and leaders such as Desmond Tutu, Carl Lewis, and Russell Simmons. I realized the power of our voice as our message began impacting not only our peers, but people across the world.

For the past six months, I have assisted in spearheading the Social Fabric Initiative (SFI) at the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice. I am passionately eager to witness how SFI will bridge our community to engage in positive ways, build stronger relationships, and tackle issues cohesively. Being a senior in high school, and the youngest team member and intern for SFI, I am honored to serve on our launching committee of such a cutting-edge program. I believe that leaders do not create followers; instead, they create more leaders.

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