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National speaker to address Chávez students

May 30, 2013

A nationally recognized speaker will engage, inspire and challenge a group of Arizona youths to dream big as they embark on their postsecondary careers.

Motivational speaker Johan Khalilian will commence this year’s César E. Chávez Leadership Institute (CCLI) at 2 p.m., June 3, at ASU’s Tempe campus by addressing a group of 60 high school students who plan on attending a university or college. Khalilian - who is also an educator, counselor, actor and former Ford Model - has been a featured guest on several nationally syndicated programs such as “The Tyra Banks Show,” “Fox News In The Morning” and “The Today Show.”

Khalilian’s lecture “The Crazy One,” documents his upbringing in Humboldt Park Chicago, an area known for its gang violence and crime, and how his dreams, choices and determination took him from a “ghetto kid” to national speaker.

“I use my life story to help people of all ages to believe in the power of their dreams and understand the impact their lives can make in the world around them. I want these students to think crazy and big, and be innovators for future generations,” Khalilian said. “They can also change the world in which they live. That could be at their high schools, in the workplace or in their communities. They can all be catalysts for positive change if they dare to dream beyond the borders and the restrictions of their environments.”

It’s a message that aligns perfectly with the values and mission of CCLI, says Elyssa Bustamante, CCLI Program Coordinator.

“Using his own life journey as the framework for his message, he will inspire and encourage the program delegates to follow their dreams and pursue their passion,” Bustamante said. “It’s a message that comes at the right time for these students.”

CCLI was established in 1995 to fill a gap in leadership development training for underrepresented high school students in the state of Arizona. At that time, there were no leadership programs at ASU that targeted this group and focused on the need to encourage greater involvement in extra-curricular and community activities. There was also a need to connect students with leaders in the community and expose them first-hand to civic and political engagement.

To date, CCLI has fostered the development of more than 800 high school juniors and seniors from across the state of Arizona with leadership development skills while advancing the goals of completing high school and attending college. CCLI is a one-week in-residence summer leadership workshop at ASU. Each year it provides 60 high school students with a one-of-a-kind experience that embraces diversity, reinforces the value of community service and encourages civic engagement. The program fosters academic and personal success within a collaborative peer environment.

The ASU César E. Chávez Leadership Institute will run June 2 through June 8. For more information, call 480-965-8890 or visit