Reflections from New Voices student leaders: Luisa Sanchez

Photo of Luisa Sanchez with other members of the Kentucky Student Voice team.
Photo of Luisa Sanchez (bottom right) with other members of the Kentucky Student Voice team. PHOTO COURTESY: LUISA SANCHEZ.

This past summer, 32 student leaders from 13 states, participated in the Student Press Law Center’s annual New Voices Student Leaders Institute – a free online program for high school students to improve their leadership and organizing skills, develop their role as leaders within the New Voices movement, and identify a strategy that could be instrumental in their state’s New Voices efforts. 

After spending two weeks learning from SPLC team members, special guest speakers and one another, the New Voices student leaders are prepared and ready to put their newfound leadership skills into action in their states.

Headshot of Luisa Sanchez

Luisa Sanchez is one of these students. Sanchez is a sophomore at Boyle County High School in Kentucky where she serves as a SANE (Student Action Network for Equity) Liaison and Board Member for the Kentucky Student Voice Team. She shared her experiences at the Institute and what comes next in her advocacy work. 

My participation in the 2023 New Voices Student Leaders Institute was educationally and socially enriching. Upon coming across the Institute via the Kentucky Student Voice Team, I became intrigued by the Institute’s efforts to support student press freedom. Journalism and law are two areas I was — and still am — passionate about, so getting to explore both further was a marvelous opportunity. 

My most enjoyable moments were in the breakout sessions we had with other participants. I and other student journalists discussed individual experiences with our work and brainstormed ideas to support student press freedom in our state. Additionally, when it came to formulating SMART goals and media pitches within groups, SPLC staff members would jump in and be open to helping direct our visions and answering questions. This aspect of social connection solidified my interest in fighting for student press freedom.

Some of the most important takeaways from what I learned at the Institute were about leadership and planning. I had an oversimplified idea of what it meant to be a leader and thought of it as the opposite of being a follower. But it’s so much more than that.

Being able to listen and learn from past Institute participants made me realize how much resilience, courage and patience are involved in leadership.

– Luisa Sanchez

Additionally, having a well-structured curriculum was advantageous when it came to planning our state group’s objectives to support New Voices legislation in an organized and thoughtful manner throughout the Institute. These takeaways allowed Institute to be more dynamic and compelling for me.

Even after the Institute ended, an SPLC staff member was willing to advise me on an op-ed about student press freedom I wanted to rework and refine. 

It was great to see how dedicated SPLC’s team was to not only offering an opportunity like the Institute for students to be involved in student press freedom but carrying on with their support and commitment to the cause even after the Institute concluded.

This makes me even more thrilled to continue putting in the time, energy, and effort to advocate for student press freedom.

In the future, I plan to continue my student press freedom advocacy by utilizing the tools and concepts I learned at the Institute for guidance. These include SWOT analyses, op-eds, SMART goals, earned media pitches, legislative proceedings and much more. I plan to keep in touch with my state group partner and establish a realistic course of action that I can engage in over the upcoming years. Of course, the methodical direction of SPLC is something I hope to keep learning from throughout my journey with advocacy and leadership.

Learn more about how you can take action to restore and protect student press freedom in your state.