Posted on May 18, 2017
Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) is a program that originated with Rotary International and has subsequently been specifically designed by Rotary District 5340 for the students in San Diego and Imperial Counties. RYLA encourages servant leadership in youth by recognizing and rewarding deserving 11th grade students who are chosen to attend RYLA as an "award" for their past and present leadership and service activities. Selected young people attend an all-expenses-paid camp where they are inspired by a diverse group of exceptional speakers, make life-long friends through fellowship activities, and discuss the ethical and social issues of today. The result is that these students return to their schools and communities motivated to take on additional leadership roles and to find additional ways to serve.
RYLA 2017 took place on April 21 - 23.  It was an intensive training/experiential program for 180 high school students in their pivotal junior year. Students participated in an all-expense paid camp held in Idyllwild Pines, California, for three days. The camp was run by RYLA Alumni and student attendance was sponsored by Rotary Clubs from throughout the District. Attendance was free for qualified high school juniors. RYLA provides a memorable opportunity to learn, grow, have fun, make new friends, and gain a new and improved focus.
Recognition for representing Carlsbad Rotary: Joe Ramirez, Rita Famulare, Sandra Campbell, Mark Schafer and Kasia Trojanowska.
This program was dedicated to the recent RYLA Meeting and featured speakers by students and Carlsbad Rotary member coordinators.
  1. Isabella Virzi, RYLA student – from San Marcos High School. Isabella said that the RYLA meeting gave her the opportunity to socialize, experience and appreciate what you have, and what you can do.
  2. Rita Famulare said this was her second year of going to RYLA and she now feels addicted.  They got something from every speaker. Skyping with girls in Afghanistan really was inspiring. The attendees gave her faith and hope for the future of this country, and the world.  Rita’s favorite speaker was Alex Montoya, author and international speaker, the owner of A-MOtivational Communications. Alex, who has no arms and only one leg, delivers motivational presentations to businesses, schools, conferences, churches, and more.  Visit his website:
  3. Next up – Irving Gomez from Carlsbad Village Academy. Irving didn’t want to go, he didn’t know anyone; he ended up thinking they were all his family. He thought the speakers were very motivating.
  4. Joe Ramirez has been involved in RYLA for 6 years – every year he learns and grows. He believes that RYLA demonstrates to everyone that each person has the potential to change the world. Joe related one student who was especially challenging this year who didn’t want to be there. Joe challenged him and told him that they were his family. The young man became involved quickly and integrated into the group.
  5. Jack Jansen is from Sage Creek HS. His favorite too was Alex Montoya, who showed the value of persistence and perseverance. Jack says he started with not knowing anyone; but, in a couple of hours, he got to know them and felt they were all his family. His biggest takeaway was the Skype with the Afghan girls. They made him feel that he could give back and change the world.
  6. Kasia Trojanowska felt she belonged to the students. Together, they dreamed about how they wanted the future to look.
  7. Mark Schafer had several take-a-aways: Today’s youth are amazing – smart, thoughtful, considerate, compassionate. He recognized that today, young people communicate differently: they use their smart-phones a lot, even to communicate quickly and effectively with each other in the same room. They gave him great hope for the future!
At the close, there was standing applause for all who are involved in RYLA!
Website: RYLA Conference: