Fifteen high school students from across Georgia have enhanced leadership skills and a stronger awareness of Latino issues after completing a youth leadership program at the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development.

The students graduated from the Leadership Sin Limites! program on Dec. 2 at an event at the J.W. Fanning Building.

During their graduation, the students presented community service projects they had completed during the fall.

Those projects ranged from volunteering at a farmers market and cleaning up litter on neighborhood streets to talking to elementary and middle school students about Latino culture.

“I wanted to do something that would benefit lots of people,” said Victor Lane, who organized a drive to collect non-perishable food and hygiene accessories for an organization in Pickens County called CARES, which stands for Community Assistance Resources Emergency Services.

For his project, Lane received support from CARES to conduct the drive, printed and distributed flyers to promote the drive, advertised the drive on the county’s website, and directed people to the drop-off location on the day of the drive.

In the end, Lane’s drive raised 150 pounds of goods for the organization.

“I was very happy with the outcome, and I am excited to do this drive every year,” said Lane. “It feels really good to help out the community.”

Prior to completing their service projects, the students spent time at UGA over the summer, receiving leadership training from Fanning Institute faculty, learning about the college admissions process and campus environment, becoming familiar with issues affecting the Latino community, and beginning to plan the projects they would later complete.

The program prepares students for future educational and leadership opportunities, said Carolina Darbisi, Fanning Institute faculty member and lead faculty for Leadership Sin Limites!

“While the students are on campus, the program exposes them to skills and strategies they can use to further themselves as leaders within their schools and communities, while giving them a glimpse into postsecondary education,” said Darbisi. “Then, planning and completing service projects back home lets the students further develop those leadership skills firsthand, while also impacting their communities in a positive way.”

Andra Guerra, a parent of two children who have completed Leadership Sin Limites!, said she appreciates everyone who makes the program possible.

“The Fanning Institute created a memorable experience for both of my children, Crystal and Justin Guerra,” Guerra said. “This program helped to foster community leadership in the youth that attended.”

Writer: Charlie Bauder; 706-542-7039;