CLU student to be inaugurated as Ventura County Youth Poet Laureate today


Contributed - Angelina Leanos

Sophomore Angelina Leanos will be inaugurated as Ventura County’s Youth Poet Laureate today.

Alijah Hernandez, Reporter

Lee sobre esto en español aquí.

As a first-year at California Lutheran University, English major Angelina Leanos was known for organizing a local open mic night series. As a sophomore, she was named Ventura County’s Youth Poet Laureate.  

“I just really appreciate how poetry can be a way to speak for the community, raise awareness of issues and raise a voice for the voiceless and that’s what my poetry is all about,” Leanos said in a Zoom interview. 

Leanos will be inaugurated as Ventura County’s Youth Poet Laureate today at 3 p.m. The inauguration will be held virtually and attendees can register in advance through Eventbrite.

Leanos said her love for poetry began her junior year of high school when she enrolled in a national poetry competition called Poetry Out Loud. Leanos said she developed a strong sense of confidence and established a new understanding for poetry by participating in this event, where she won at both the school and county levels.

Leanos said she also participated in a district-wide poetry slam for her two remaining years in high school, which motivated her to keep pursuing poetry. She has several published poems and one of the lines from her poem “Call me Chicano” was used as the title for the 2018-2019 California Poets in the Schools statewide anthology, “I’ll take this word, and make it mine.”

“I really want to continue writing and publishing, but I also want to teach English at the high school level and teach poetry to support future generations, that’s what really motivates me… it’s just a subject I love so much and I think other people will love it too,” Leanos said.

Leanos has been applying to be the youth poet laureate since 2018 and finally earned the title this year. Though the pandemic has changed the dynamic of the position, she said she is excited to represent her community for the next year. 

“The cool thing too is that with this position, I also get to publish my own poetry book and I’m really excited for that,” Leanos said. “I’m starting to write new material just about different things. Self love, environmental justice, social justice and love of course is a big one. I’m just really excited for this position.”

Sophia Cruz, sophomore Political Science major, is a close friend of Leanos. She said they share many of the same interests and passion for writing. Cruz describes their friendship as very inspirational and encouraging. 

“She definitely deserves it because she puts so much heart into her poetry. I’m really proud of her for doing what she does,” Cruz said.

Another friend of Leanos’, has developed a tight bond with Leanos through writing for Her Campus together. 

Alex Warrender, sophomore Psychology major, shares the position of co-senior writer and editor for Her Campus with Leanos. In a Zoom interview, Warrender said Leanos is very caring and that trait is reflected in her writing. Her pieces are filled with emotion and she is very empathetic and caring towards everyone. 

“I’m very excited to see her sworn in on Saturday when she has her inauguration ceremony. I know it means a great deal to her. I’m very proud of her and her writing skills because she’s a phenomenal writer,” Warrender said.

Leanos said her extracurricular workload–including her role in Her Campus and as an Americorps fellow–can be stressful, but she knows it is worth it. 

“I want to continue my education and also one day contribute to the education of other people. It’s just little reminders on why I’m doing this work and that really motivates me because I know it’s worth it in the end,” Leanos said. 

Leanos said she enjoys providing support to others because she knows her actions can create a ripple effect. 

“She loves sharing her heart with people and I think that’s the heart of her work ethic. She puts all of herself into everything she does,” Cruz said.