Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-03-14
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Gay student leader earns leadership post, learns life lessons
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Jason Carson Wilson

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Making equality a priority is one of Jose Aburto's accomplishments. Aburto, an openly gay 18-year-old graduate of J. Sterling Morton East High School graduate in Cicero, currently serves as Morgan East Gay-Straight Alliance (MEGASA) president.

Aburto has been responsible for a 300-percent increase—from 10 to 30 members—in membership. He helped orchestrate a petition drive on the Day of Silence, which garnered 900 signatures of the school's 4,000 students. Aburto remembered going from table to table during all six lunch periods.

"At the end of the day, I was shaking," he said. "People I never thought would be accepting...were. I feel, sometimes, [LGBT people] judge...we have to make the effort to contact them."

That proven leadership snagged the Northern Michigan University freshman a spot in the Bank of America Student Leaders Program. Gaining acceptance into the program earned Aburto an eight-week paid Little Village Boys & Girls Club internship.

He was among more than 220 high school juniors and seniors nationwide receiving internships with nonprofits in their communities and participating in the week-long Student Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. The summit left Aburto with indelible memories.

"It was amazing," he said. "Once I got there, everyone was so enthusiastic and accepting."

For example, he heard the story of David Kennerly. Kennerly, an acclaimed historical photojournalist, shared a story about overcoming adversity to achieve success.

Legendary actor James Earl Jones gave Kennerly a shout-out, according to . "David Hume Kennerly is just like Forrest Gump, except he was actually there," Jones said.

Kennerly, Aburto learned, has photographed several presidents—after encountering some adversity. Aburto said the famed artist shared those struggles with him and his fellow summit attendees. Kennerly succeeded in doing yet another thing.

He was "giving us hope," Aburto said.

Former First Daughter Barbara Bush discussed her non-profit organization, Global Health Corps. According to the organization's website, Global Health Corps' mission is create a community that aims to achieve healthcare equality worldwide.

Listening wasn't the participants' only activity. Aburto said they delved into many group activities, including a community service project—stuffing 2,000 backpacks (filled with school supplies) for children of military families. "It was really inspirational," he said.

Aburto added that while many students created their own nonprofits, the summit encouraged youth getting involved in organizations already serving their communities.

"I like to work with low-income communities and [LGBT] people in conservative communities working toward acceptance and tolerance," he said. "A lot of people are afraid to come out. I'd like to create a safe haven."

So creating his own nonprofit organization could be in Aburto's future. As a Little Village Boys & Girls Club intern, he's used a project to enrich lives of members with music. Aburto worked with about 100 children.

"I really love music," he said.

He organized an event that featured a choir of Boys & Girls Club members singing songs they'd practiced. Given music education's scarcity in school, Aburto felt the need to incorporate it into the programming.

"A lot of the kids have real talent," he said. "When I see them happy, I get happy. It really made me feel that I'm helping these kids."

Aburto's work earned accolades from one mother, who said her son couldn't stop singing at home. His internship ended Aug. 10—and he said he's more than grateful for the opportunities the Bank of America Student Leaders Program afforded him.

"I owe them my life right now," Aburto said. "I knew before starting that my life was going to change. I was given an opportunity to be a leader myself."

He said he hopes his efforts reveal something to the older generation.

"When people say, 'We can't take the younger generation seriously,' they're wrong," Aburto said.

The member of that younger generation still ponders his future—both far and near. Aburto thinks he might major in communications.

Bank of America launched the Student Leaders Program in 2004. Since then, it's honored 1,600 students around the United States.

"Preparing high school students for leadership is an essential component of our community investments," Bank of America Senior Vice President Diane Wagner said.

With that said, Wagner said the program helps some youth having difficulty finding jobs. The June national youth employment rate for those 16-19 with no disability was 33.4 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy.

That is less than the average employment rates for young people ages 16-19 during 2004 and 2005, which were 36.4 percent and 36.5 percent, respectively, the National Youth Employment Coalition reports. Interestingly, those rates set the record for the lowest youth-employment rates in nearly 60 years.

The added benefit of the Student Leaders Program-procured positions is the foundation of long-term success.

"[The] program connects young leaders with employment that helps to give them the necessary tools and resources they need to advance," Wagner said.

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Precious Minds project seeks to mentor youth 2018-03-14 - Precious Minds Mentoring Program is a program for young women, founded by a youth who has experienced her own struggles and who now ...

Gay News

Point Foundation hosts networking event at Salero 2018-03-12 - Approximately 80 people attended Point's 2018 Chicago Cornerstone Society Reception at Salero restaurant on March 8. Point board members Alexia Ward and ...

Gay News

9 to 12 Bowling hosts Youth Outlook 'fun-raiser' March 31 2018-03-08 - The 9 to 12 bowling league is hosting its 23rd annual fundraiser, "Bowl for Their Future," a fun-raiser for Youth Outlook Sat., March ...

Gay News

As students plan protests of Parkland shooting, UCLU urges civics lessons in education 2018-03-05 - Chicago — Noting the heightened interest of high school students across the nation and Illinois to participate in public policy discussions, the American ...

Gay News

Olympian Adam Rippon Launches GLAAD Campaign for LGBTQ Youth 2018-03-01 - New York — GLAAD, the world's largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, today announced that Olympic medalist Adam Rippon launched a fundraising campaign to ...

Gay News

ELECTIONS 4th Dist. State Rep. candidate Delia Ramirez on marijuana law, homeless youth 2018-02-28 - Community advocate Delia Ramirez was until recently the Deputy Director of the Community Renewal Society: she resigned to become one of four candidates ...

Gay News

30 Under 30 Awards to honor young LGBT individuals, nominations sought 2018-02-28 - Windy City Times is seeking to recognize 30 more outstanding LGBT individuals ( and allies ) for its annual 30 Under 30 Awards. ...

Gay News

University of Chicago teaching program starts LGBTQ initiative 2018-02-28 - In a new initiative, University of Chicago's Urban Teacher Education Program ( UChicago UTEP ) is adding gender identity and sexuality to its ...

Gay News

Point notes new college program, holding event 2018-02-28 - Point Foundation (Point) encourages LGBTQ community-college students who are planning to transfer to a four-year degree program to apply for its Community College ...

Gay News

Journalist explains history of LGBTQ acronym at event 2018-02-27 - "I'd like to apologize on behalf of my entire generation," longtime journalist E.J. Graff told the audience who attended her lecture "LGBTQ: How ...


Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.