Latinos Start "305 Rise" to Empower Young Minority Leaders in Miami

Six Latino college students who attended a leadership program at Harvard College returned to Miami with an idea.

They decided to found a group, 305 Rise, devoted to help minority students become better prepared for college.

The students had been part of the 2011 Miami Dade Cohort of the Harvard Latino Leadership Initiative. After their training, Laura Victoria Barrera, Jessenia Maribel Guerra, Anabetsy Rivero, Vanessa Chalmers, Andes Luis Alberto Sanchez and Colombian-American Jessica Giraldo returned home determined to give back by empowering students at Miami Dade College.

With the help and support Harvard faculty and staff, they conducted a two-day program, were 20 attendees engaged in team-building activities, learned networking skills, set goals and developed their personal narrative as a catalyst for social change. 

Sociology major Marilyn Figueroa said she was deeply impacted by the program: “I started Miami Dade College with no direction and little hope, believing that because I was at a community college my life would be limited to only the world around me.”

Figueroa and some of the other 305 Rise 'graduates' are planning to make 305 Rise an official school organization; their first initiative is to create a student-led trip to Harvard.

The other nineteen 305 Rise graduates have gone on to accept leadership positions and become involved in a variety of student-led initiatives on and off campus.

"305 Rise inspired me to dream bigger, work harder, help more, become a dedicated leader,” Figueroa said of the impact of the program, “and it left me with the hope that I can effect change in my community."

You can read more about 305 Rise and the Harvard Latino Leadership Initiative that inspired it all at Giraldo’s blog at

Isa Adney is a Fox News Latino Education and Community Columnist and the author of Community College Success (NorLights Press, 2012), available on and She advises students across the country on how to break socio-economic barriers and build positive educational communities. You can connect with Isa on Twitter, Facebook, and

For story ideas e-mail isa at

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