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The Tennessean

Young people are the catalyst for change and motivate us to do better

By David Plazas, Nashville Tennessean,


Buenos días, amigos:

Colleagues of mine in recent weeks have asked me on different occasions how I keep so calm about the state of politics in Tennessee.

The truth is, which I tell them, is that I still get angry about injustices toward any particular group, be it Latino immigrants or the LGBTQ community, but I have learned with age to be more strategic about how I express that anger. My stoicism is not apathy; rather, it is about calculated problem-solving.

Still, the raw passion and energy that I see from young people when they care about and advocate for a cause are motivate and enthrall me.

When I saw Jacob Aparicio speak on the stage at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Convocation at Tennessee State University in January, his words about young people being "the catalyst to create change" came across as authentic and inspiring to me and even the keynote speaker.

I knew I wanted to get to know him better, and he kindly agreed to be interviewed on the Tennessee Voices video podcast that I have been hosting since 2020 to feature conversations with thinkers, leaders and innovators.

Aparicio, who is of Puerto Rican and Peruvian descent, shared his story of finding his calling as a boots-on-the-ground nonprofit leader who is helping young people at the Oasis Center in Nashville. The center develops young leaders and also assists youth who are homeless and in trouble.

He has a fascinating origin story that might be familiar to some readers: of feeling unseen and different, of not knowing his purpose, and of finally figuring out what drives him to be successful.

Watch our video interview and motivate a young person in your life to seek their purpose.

What else you'll find in this week's newsletter:

  • Trevecca Nazarene alum Diana Leyva is now an intern at The Tennessean. Check out her recent story on the new gymnastics team at Fisk University.
  • Fourteen Hispanic leaders , including Council Member Sandra Sepúlveda, wrote a letter to Tennessee's governor and top legislative leaders asking them not to pass a bill that would downsize the Metro Nashville Council (The bill passed and the governor signed it into law, but the city is suing the state).
  • My latest column: Do LGBTQ residents fight or flee Tennessee after the new drag law takes effect?
  • From USA TODAY: Travel experts discuss safety in Mexico after kidnappings and killings.

A few reminders:


Please send your recommendations, story ideas, events and other tidbits.

¡Muchas gracias!

David Plazas is the director of opinion and engagement for the USA TODAY Network - Tennessee. He is of Colombian and Cuban descent, has studied or worked in several Spanish-speaking countries, and was the founding editor of Gaceta Tropical in Southwest Florida. He has lived in Tennessee since 2014. Call him at (615) 259-8063, email him at or tweet to him at @davidplazas .

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Young people are the catalyst for change and motivate us to do better

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