LATHROP — Michael Hermosilla just wanted to get involved with the community.
The 17-year-old Merrill West student quickly learned that the best way to do that was to earn himself a seat on the Lathrop Youth Advisory Commission.
Nearly one dozen teens work to solve problems that face kids their age in the community. Hermosilla is part of an active group that represents the interests of teenagers in Lathrop and strives to improve the social and recreational offerings provided. Those who serve are appointed by Lathrop’s mayor for two years.
While Hermosilla was somewhat shy at the start, jumping into a proactive group like the YAC helped him come out of his shell and start to learn the leadership skills he plans on carrying into college.
“I just wanted to be involved in the community and face the teen issues – the Lathrop teen issues that are going on,” Hermosilla said. “I got to meet a lot of great people and develop leadership skills. Getting involved in this helped me become more social, and I’m very glad for that.”
On Monday, the Lathrop City Council honored Hermosilla for his two years of work on the YAC. He played a role in the developmental stages of the East Lathrop Community Complex project that will eventually house a teen center for local youth.
While he’ll have a nice certificate to hold on to as he prepares for the next step in his educational journey – starting off at Delta College and hoping to transfer to the University of California – Hermosilla says he’ll also be able to look back on the work he did on that project and be proud of the progress he and his fellow commissioners made.
“Right now it’s still in the planning stages, but we got to talk a lot about what we’d like to see and the programs that would be good for that site,” he said. “That’s the biggest accomplishment that I can say that I was a part of when I look back on this.
“I think it’s going to be the biggest issue for the other commissioners still going and those who will take their place.”
And if he needs a little bit of a boost when it comes to focusing on his future, all he has to do is look at the youngest member of the Lathrop City Council and see that determination can pay off.
City Councilman Omar Ornelas cut his teeth in Lathrop’s political structure by serving on the YAC. He is an advocate for the commission whenever anything regarding it comes up for discussion during a council meeting.
Hermosilla, who has gotten the chance to know Ornelas through the YAC, said he was surprised when he got his seat on the council and realized then that anything is possible.
“I kind of followed it because my mom works here, and I didn’t expect that,” he said. “It kind of makes me think that if he can do that, I can do that too, and that’s really cool to see.
“Plus he’s a nice guy too.”