On her recent visit to Mexico, First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama kicked-off her international platform of youth engagement by addressing university students and engaging in a roundtable discussion with young leaders in Mexico, including young social entrepreneurs supported by IYF’s YouthActionNet® program. 

"You have an unprecedented ability to organize and to mobilize, to challenge old assumptions and to bridge old divides, to find new solutions to our toughest problems," said the First Lady in addressing hundreds of youth at the Universidad Iberoamericana. "It is because of this immense promise that I intend to focus my international work as First Lady on engaging young people just like you around the world."

Among the 12 youth invited to a roundtable discussion with the First Lady was 2007 Global Fellow Maritza Morales, founder of the Hunab Life Project, an NGO in the Yucatan that engages youth in efforts to educate their peers and adults about environmental sustainability. A program of the International Youth Foundation (IYF), YouthActionNet® seeks to develop a new generation of socially-conscious global citizens who create positive change in their communities, their countries, and the world.

"At the age of 10, I started a movement seeking to protect the environment and our natural resources," said Maritza, now 25, in addressing the First Lady. "We need your support to form new generations who live in harmony with nature," she added. In 2008, Maritza was also honored with the Premio UVM Prize for Social Development. In partnership with the Sylvan/Laureate Foundation and the Universidad del Valle de Mexico, the Premio UVM program honors young social entrepreneurs in Mexico and is part of the YouthActionNet Global Network.

lso participating in the roundtable was 2009 Premio UVM Prize recipient José Alfonso Salgado Cordero, who founded Movimiento Libro Libre (Free Book Movement) to encourage Mexican citizens to give away a book they have enjoyed on the seventh day of every month.