Jordan Prudente – Soft-spoken, shy smile, and a calm nature. But if the time is taken to look closer you’ll notice something more – an unmistakable glimmer of confidence in his eyes.

Prudente, a freshman at Grand Canyon University, says the Diversity Leadership Alliance is responsible for that.

“Before I joined the DLA, I was a really, really shy student,” Prudente says. “No one really knew me and then when DLA came in I became more confident. I wanted to speak out what was in my mind and that’s what they do.”

The DLA is an organization that has monthly workshops that aim to build leadership, diversity and equality through teamwork and encouragement from others.

Christine French, executive director, founder and co-chair of the DLA, says she soon realized that the next generation needs to be raised with these skills and values, which led her to partner with the Phoenix Union District.

DLA works with every high school at the Phoenix Union including Willow Canyon High School where Prudente originally joined the program.

Prudente says the main reason why he was so shy was because he had recently moved from the Philippines and was having trouble adjusting to the culture. His assistant principal suggested to him to join DLA at the end of his junior year and he says he is grateful the program was and continues to be there.

“I think I wouldn’t survive college if DLA wasn’t there for me,” Prudente says. “I’d still be a shy student. I still wouldn’t be out there.”

French says Prudente has been “transformed” and that was best demonstrated when he won the top $3,000 scholarship for the best speech created at the public speaking workshop. He later delivered his speech at the DLA’s most recent conference.

“When I first met Jordan he wouldn’t even look at me when he talked to me,” French says. “He looked at his feet. And other than yes and no I didn’t hear much from him. If you were to ask 1,000 people who came to the conference and heard him they would say, ‘are you sure you’re talking about the same young man?,’ because he was powerful. He was heartfelt. He had a message to deliver and he delivered it.”

Prudente says DLA strives to make a leader out of everyone and that he was no exception.

“They always say that there is a leader in you and they made me find the leader in me,” Prudente says. “Actually, the first workshop I went to I was pretty upset because I was like, why did they call me? I’m not even a leader. Then the next day they told me why I am a leader and showed me how I can be a leader.”

Prudente is utilizing his scholarship at Grand Canyon University and his plans for the future include preparing to apply to the school’s nursing program and continuing to attend DLA workshops.

French says it’s extremely important that young people like Prudente get involved.

“I want DLA to cultivate a generation of leaders that will transform not only themselves but transform their environment, their community, and everything they touch because as a leader you either transform your team or you deform them.”