The Gift of Knowledge

Natalie - 92688, California
Entered on September 22, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I believe that a person’s race or ethnicity or place in society should never stop them from achieving what they want in life. I believe that every person deserves the opportunity of education and with this opportunity comes the opportunity for great leadership.

Product of a common Hispanic statistic and a 1st generation Mexican American, I was born to two teenage high school sweethearts. At the early age of seventeen, my mother, like many Hispanic teenage girls today, was faced with the challenge of juggling motherhood and high school. Despite the many obstacles they faced, my parents took on the major decision to provide me with the best possible education they could. Residing in East Los Angeles, they sacrificed luxuries to provide a Catholic school education for me in hopes of instilling strong spiritual and moral principles to prevent me from making the same mistakes they did. They have worked hard to give me the advice and opportunities that they as teenagers were never exposed to. For as long as I can remember, my parents have imbedded and encouraged my motivations to do well in school. Growing up we moved three major times, as my parents struggled to provide a better environment for me and my younger brother, throughout all of our relocations my parents insisted to keep me in private school.

My motivation to do well in school and become a successful leader in society is a direct result of my parents’ influence and support. Unlike many of teenage couples faced with having a child, they managed after 17 years to stay married and achieve successful careers. My academic achievements and motivation to get involved in my community is due to them. Some of my hopes are to help the Hispanic community and preventing the issues of teenage pregnancy and high school dropouts. These are two major issues plaguing the Latino Community today. Experiencing the effects of both issues firsthand, I believe that it has made me the determined person I am today. I am a firm believer that Education is the key to success. During my junior summer I had the opportunity to attend a leadership project along with other Hispanic/ Latino students from across California. At this conference I learned the important role that education plays in effective leadership. However many teens my age are apathetic to this idea believing that they are unfit or lack the knowledge to make an impact on society. By providing an individual with knowledge, one can help prevent them from making bad decisions and realize their potential.

It is the motivation to help and influence others that inspires me to take part in my community and make contributions to change it. As I have grown older I have come to realize how my Hispanic heritage is dynamic to my influence in society. I hope to change some peoples’ views about some of the stereotypes following our Hispanic race. I am a firm believer that youth does not limit leadership. Anyone can influence a community and make an impact.