Friendship and career options are the two things that first come to Eesam Hourani’s mind. “That’s what I’ve learned this week,” he says.
Hourani, a sophomore at DSST: Stapleton, was among 70 high school students in Northeast Denver who participated in the 2014 Northeast Denver Leadership Week (NDLW) June 16 to 20. The program, founded by Councilman Chris Herndon, helps youth consider their own careers by introducing them to civic and industry leaders throughout Denver. The program includes a weeklong series of site visits and personal meetings with professionals. NDLW is free for all participants.
“I always thought before coming this week that leaders were basically just those who take charge, like the big bosses, CEOs,” says Hourani. “But a person may not be a CEO and still have the characteristics of a leader. Leaders are those whose job is not for themselves, but for others.”
Each day of the week had a theme with multiple field trips: Health and Aviation Day, Entertainment and Sports Management Day, Environment and Sustainability Day, Safety Day, and College, Scholarship and Fun Day.
Hourani was drawn to a career in radiation during the Health and Aviation Day. He hopes to go to Yale or Harvard one day.
Sports Management Day was the highlight of the week for John Baltazar, student at Martin Luther King Jr. Early College. He turned into a tourist, snapping dozens of pictures inside the Pepsi Center and while meeting former Nuggets player Ervin Johnson.
Hourani and Baltazar are an unexpected duo—Baltazar fearlessly approaching new people and situations, and Hourani just beginning to step out of his comfort zone—but they became good friends throughout the week.
“In the past I might not have been the most social person when it comes to new encounters,” Hourani says. “But I learned from this experience that just talking to new people you’re able to make new friends, and that’s truly how relationships and business works.”
The two are thankful for Councilman Herndon and his dedication to NDLW. Baltazar says, “If I were one of his political councilman buddies, I would be questioning why he would be doing this, not making us pay for anything. We’re just high school kids, that’s what people think of us, but Councilman Herndon didn’t.”