2020-2021 Youth Poet Laureate
Angelina Leaños is the current Ventura County Youth Poet Laureate and a member of the Ventura County Arts Council Board of Directors. As a high school student, she won the Poetry Out Loud competition at both the school and county levels, and she has since returned as a recitation coach for Ventura County. She is the youngest poet in California Poets in the Schools' history (established in 1964) to be invited onto their Board of Directors. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Angelina created an online platform for other poets by organizing a monthly bilingual poetry open mic with the Oxnard Public Library system.
Angelina has been published in several poetry collections, including the California Poets in the School’s 2019 statewide anthology, I’ll Take this Word and Make it Mine: 2018-2019 California Poets in the Schools Anthology, the title of which comes from her very own poem, “Call Me Chicano.” She has also read at several esteemed poetry events, including the 2021 Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival and the 2021 Simi Valley Multicultural Festival.
Angelina studies English and Psychology at California Lutheran University with the aspiration to become a high school English teacher or counselor. In addition, she was in the inaugural class of the AmeriCorps Fellows Program, a first in the nation program at California Lutheran University to help students pay for college through public service targeting challenges in their region. Through this program, Angelina worked with the Oxnard College Outreach team to inspire high school students and assist them on their journey to higher education through community college. She has since continued working with the Oxnard College Outreach team as a student worker.
Whether it’s through teaching, tutoring, or poetry reading, Angelina strives to inspire both present generations and generations to come to create a world in which diversity of all kinds is not only accepted but celebrated. A second-generation Mexican-American, Angelina writes of her relationship to her unique relationship to both aspects of her culture. In addition, her poetry consists of celebrations of diversity, messages of self-love and hope, appreciation for the natural world, and calls to action for racial, social, and environmental justice.