YLDP: Mentoring the Leaders of Tomorrow!

YLDP Board of Directors 2017 with Consul General of India, Dr. Anupam Ray and his wife Dr. Amit Goldberg Ray at the Graduation 2017 Event at India House on Saturday, April 29.

YLDP Board of Directors 2017 with Consul General of India, Dr. Anupam Ray and his wife Dr. Amit Goldberg Ray at the Graduation 2017 Event at India House on Saturday, April 29. Photos: Sarvesh Bhavaraju

Click here for Photo Collage

By Vanshika Vipin Varma

HOUSTON: “Lead from the back, and let others believe they are in front.” This truly inspiring quote from Nelson Mandela refers to the young leaders who want to break out of the herd mentality and create environments that are conducive to higher grades. On Saturday, April 29, India House was filled with such growing leaders, who have been capitalizing on personal strengths and are career-ready. The Graduation event organized by the Youth Leadership Development Program of Houston (YLDP) is something that is really looked forward to, each year. Formed in 2008 by a group of Houstonians of Indian origin, YLDP aims at addressing the leadership gap in our community, locally and nationally. With its core focus being in the areas of Business / Entrepreneurship, Government / Politics, Social / Culture / Art and Charity / Philanthropy, YLDP has flourished over the years and have recently added the Science / Technology theme. The student enrollment has been increasing too, from 24 to 59 as on date.

The much-awaited event began from 9 am and went up to 1 pm. Srimathi Kumar, Vice President-Graduation & the Event Chair welcomed everyone. This was followed by an introduction to YLDP by Poonam Taneja, YLDP President & Event Co-chair, along with Nat Murthy, Chairman. They shared some insights to the program and acknowledged the hard work of all those who have been a part of its success. Poonam mentioned, “This has been a unique year in the history of YLPD since its inception in 2008. This year we had several new speakers like Bob Patel, CEO of LyondellBasell and Chase Untermeyer, former US Ambassador to Qatar. This year we had more girls enrolled in the program than boys and the percent of students graduating from the program has been the highest among previous years.”

YLDP graduating class of 2017 with Consul General of India, Dr. Anupam Ray and his wife Dr. Amit Goldberg Ray.

YLDP graduating class of 2017 with Consul General of India, Dr. Anupam Ray and his wife Dr. Amit Goldberg Ray.

We could notice the pep and spark in the hall, as it was about time for the student – moderated sessions. This year there were a total of six teams, covering a wide range of interesting and unique topics, which were as follows:-

Team Politics, led by Rachana Kataram, spoke about how the leaders of the Democratic Party could restore power and positivity to the party, and work with its Republican constituents to set forth a governmental platform that considers the interests of Democrats around the country. Quite an interesting topic, this brought up discussions both from affirmative and negative aspects from the entire team members Danalila Pasumarti, Rahul Prabhu, Aishwarya Kotha, Divya Aloori and Nikhil Narravula.

Team Philanthrophy, led by Priya Wood, presented the leadership traits that Bill and Melinda (of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), and Warren Buffet have demonstrated, and that others can follow and learn from to make an impact to mankind and the world. The other team members who were a part of this compelling discussion were Rohit Kamat, Santosh Akunuri, Anjali Kamat, Tejaswi Udipi and Srindihi Murali.

Team Business, presented an interesting topic that covered the strategic thought process of Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, who has made the patents of his unique and innovative products like electric cars, open for any company in the world to use. Ram Panda was the lead on this topic and he was supported by Arya Bhakare, Subhuksha Srinivasan, Layaa Amirthalingam, Megana Sundar and Sathwik Iyer.

Team Art/Culture, had their topic revolve around the criticism and question on The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, which was accused of pandering to minority viewers. Vignesh Vasan led this topic along with support from Poojitha Cheeti, Priyal Dahiya, Deep Parikh, Sachi Khemka and Shivam Shah.

Team Technology, led by Arushi Guddanti, discussed on the pros & cons of the transition of energy companies to clean or renewable energy, initiated by the CEO of Shell, Ben Van Beurden. The other team members included Kavya Chandran, Nandini Komaana, Meghana Potturu, Amitesh Yeleswarapu, Arya Muralidharan, Aanchal Vohra and Amar Moturu.

Team Science, led by Varsha Vasu, spoke about the processes and policies that could be put in place to safeguard public interest and benefits. Her other team members were Vikram Wood, Akhila Mamandur, Jayaharini Maheswaran, Megana Jupudy and Chakra Jonnalagadda.

The young leaders seemed excited and full of enthusiasm as they spoke about their learning throughout the year. And their self-confidence seemed to flow in as their natural personal trait. The audience too seemed eager and delighted to hear these young kids speak. The group discussions of these sharp and smart kids seemed like so much fun, apart from being enlightening. After all, the YLDP class of 2017, was a bunch of youngsters who would turn into the future Indo American leaders. Three teams presented their topics first, which lasted for fifteen minutes each, followed by a short snack break, which was later resumed by the presentation of the next three teams.

After this wonderful round, Poonam Taneja welcomed the chief guest and the keynote speaker of the afternoon, Dr. Anupam Ray, Consul General of India, Houston. It was Dr. Ray’s second year at the event. He shared a very enlightening speech on leadership, which was followed by a very interactive and informative Q&A session with the graduating students. Dr. Ray said, “There is nothing I accord greater importance to than to interacting with youth. We are what you are. We will become what you want to become”. In his speech he focused on three Indian leaders, Guru Gobind Singh, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, and Sardar Vallabhai Patel. Citing examples of all three and their struggles and attaining success and becoming true leaders, he said, “Leadership is suffering. Leadership is walking alone. Leadership is about feeling your way in the dark. Leadership is about inspiring others. It is about preparing for adversity. And about retaining your humanity, about retaining your belief in your cause inspite of that. If you are able to find in your darkest moments the humanity of Guru Gobind Singh, the ability of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar to see a distant future, and the integrity of Sardar Patel, then you are a leader”.

His motivational speech was followed by group pictures and distribution of certificates and awards. YLDP Board of Directors 2017 include, Nat Murthy- Chairman, Poonam Taneja- President, Sarvesh Bhavaraju -Vice President- Selections, Srimathi Kumar- Vice President-Graduation, Jayasree Bondu-Director, Sharda Prasad- Treasurer, Minal Varadharajan- Secretary, Rama Rao- Web Director, Kush Tandon – Service Project Director, and Anu Kulkarni- Director. The event was attended by Sushma Bhan and Nimmi vale, past YLDP board members. Live sound was provided by Darshak Thacker from Krishna Sounds Production. The event later wrapped up to a flavorsome and scrumptious lunch from Panera Bread.

YLDP has been doing a fabulous task by nurturing these young kids and mentoring them to the right direction. We hope to see these young leaders succeed in their corporate environment.

More about YLDP:
YLDP of Houston is an independent 501 © (3) nonprofit organization, nurturing future Indo-American leaders. YLDP’s mission with their non-profit organization is to help the enrolled students of Junior and Senior High School classes from all over Greater Houston Area. The organization is led and served by a voluntary Board of Directors. The year-long curriculum consists of Class Room Speaker Sessions, Service Project and Graduation as the final event concluding with recognition of students.