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PILOT program attempts to lead students

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The importance of activism was encouraged to millennial students Wednesday night at the Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC) program by their chief operating officer.

Pacific Islander Leaders of Tomorrow, also known as PILOT, is a part of the EPIC program which serves “to promote social justice by engaging Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities through culturally relevant advocacy, research, and development,” according to their website.

The program’s chief operating officer, ‘Alisi Tulua, said that many people in the community do not think about participating in elections and activism movements.

“These sessions are going to be about something that our community usually does not talk about or (participate in),” Tulua said.

Tulua explained how the Black Panther Party and Black Lives Matter movement are forms of activism.

“A lot of these people are fighting for something–fighting to change something,” Tulua said. “Today there are more opportunities for people to participate in creating and shaping the way things (are). There is a way of contributing to the society around us.”

Mynor Godoy, coordinator of YVote, an organization that encourages millenials to vote, spoke about the ‘Take Back the Vote’ movement and the upcoming election.

“We want to focus on the people of color as well as millennials,” Godoy said. “We want this age demographic to go out and vote. 18 to 34-year-olds are going to be the majority of the people voting in this election.”

The event encouraged students, as well as educated them on why voting is important.

“I was here for one week over the summer and I think it’s awesome. I learned things I never even knew about. This voting stuff is new to me,” Priscilla Wailase, 25, said.

“My family is from Guam and this program in general teaches us that our voice is important and that we shouldn’t be drowned out by the other voices,” Nicolas Cruz said.

The program is a combination of group activities and motivating discussions. The main focus is for student engagement, relevancy with their culture and family, and for students to come back, according to Tulua.

“Pacific Islanders are often erased from the conversation (academic wise),” ‘DannyBoy’ Naha-Ve’evalu, program coordinator, said. “We are here to help the students connect with each other and certain topics they can’t relate with others. It’s about leadership and our culture.”

Although this program is focused more on the Pacific Islander community, it is not limited to them, according to Naha-Ve’evalu.

Students from multiple colleges such as East Los Angeles College, Long Beach City College, Mt. San Antonio College, El Camino Compton Center as well as some high school students attended the programs event.

An LBCC student, explained why she enjoyed the program.

“I used to be one of those people who thought my vote didn’t matter. [EPIC] really caters to (my) needs as a student, financially and academically,” Evelyn Elisara, 24, business administration major, said. “We talk a lot about immigration statuses and the resources there are for anything that you need.”

If you are interested in attending one of these program meetings there will be another one on Wednesday, Nov. 2 in the Alondra Room from 6 to 9 p.m.

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PILOT program attempts to lead students