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Local student becomes president of National Jr. Youth Leadership conference

WASHINGTON, D.C. — This summer, Kenyin Keller of LaPlace joined outstanding school students from across the nation to take part in a unique academic and career-oriented development experience, National Jr. Youth Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.

JYLC is one of the Envision by WorldStrides family of programs that enable students to explore their interests and experience learning beyond the classroom.

Kenyin, an East St. John High School student, spent six days and five nights at the conference in July and was voted president.

“While I was there, I was part of a campaign to become president. There were so many people that wanted to be a part of the politics. I was a little frightened because I was one of very few students that had a public-school education and one of only three students from Louisiana, as a whole,” Kenyin said. “When we were given assignments to build our campaign knowledge, I did not know how everything would work out, but I know my parents instilled strength in me, so I did all the assignments given with ambitious standards for myself.”

Kenyin was tasked with producing a campaign slogan and logo. He also had to make a speech convincing his peers to vote for him. All of the challenging work was worth it in the end when he was elected president.

“I was very honored yet humbled because most people there were from private schools and wealth. I am a Black boy from a small town, yet my education here made a great impact as to why I was voted president,” Kenyin said. “I learned so many strategies and techniques to help build and keep my leadership skills. I can’t thank my middle school teacher, Mrs. Alexander enough for nominating me to be a part of something so impactful.”

Amanda Freitag Thomas of the Envision program said she was excited that Kenyin was able to meet, work and collaborate with other high-aspiring students from across the country.

“Hands down, my favorite part of attending an Envision program was being with motivated students in an environment designed to help us challenge our assumptions, meet new people, and grow,” Thomas said. “Creating that same learning environment is a central focus for all our programs. At JYLC students build the confidence and skills needed to excel in high school, college and the workplace. They learn how to adapt to and communicate in new situations, to new challenges, and with new people, which, given how rapidly the world is changing due to technology and innovation, are essential skills for success.”

For over 35 years, Envision by WorldStrides has empowered extraordinary students to become their best selves through programs that enable them to discover their passion, explore a career and positively impact their world. In 2018, Envision became part of the WorldStrides family. The largest provider of educational travel and experiences in the United States, WorldStrides works with over 50,000 educators each year to help more than 550,000 students (about half the population of Maine) see the world—and themselves—in new ways.