Working hard on my path forward

WALKING INTO A ROOM full of strangers is scary. Especially when you’re the newest and youngest person there.

I knew this feeling all too well. I remember walking into a conference room at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota in Minneapolis on my first day vol­unteering about five years ago, and feeling butterflies roaming around in my stomach. I thought, “Why is everybody staring at me?”

Now that I think about it, I laugh. I was nervous for no reason at all. I was walking into a room full of people who shared the same inter­ests as me. People who wanted to serve their community, just as I did.

Normally, when I tell adults I volunteer, they don’t always believe me. They ask a lot of follow-up questions, almost like a test to see if I’m telling the truth. But, to their surprise, I am telling the truth.

As a Mexican American, I try to do everything I can to refute what people perceive as the stereotypical Hispanic girl by getting the best education, and the most out of life, that I can. With this education I plan on getting into college, starting my career and becoming successful as a journalist and, later, in the field of law.

I always try to push myself to go the extra step because I believe that my future will represent who I am and will show my ambitions in life. I try to never lose motivation because I think it can be helpful when I need it, such as in journalism.

If I want to be successful, I need as much support as I can get, and my mom is my No. 1 fan. She is hard-working and sacrifices all she has for me and my future. I feel as though I owe it all to her, and I want to attribute my successes to her. Her hard-working job, her strong independence and her self-confi­dence have taught me that along my journey, I need to be prepared for whatever is coming. Her support drives me forward.

A while back, my mom encour­aged me to join the speech team at my high school. I didn’t think it was a good idea, but I joined anyway. And even though I didn’t enjoy it at first, she said I would at least learn something in the process.

She was right. While on the team, I learned that speaking in front of people is not scary. Being on the speech team requires you to think on your feet, and staying ahead of the game is key to scoring a one (one is the highest ranking you can get, out of five).

During my summer breaks, I try to stay busy by enrolling in camps, study­ing for the ACT with tutors and prac­tice exams, and working as an intern at a law firm. Summer camps are one of the many things I do to get ahead. This summer, I participated in a mock trial with students, along with a lawyer who ran the trial. I’m hoping it helps me make the mock trial team in my senior year of high school. These people, and new activities, have brought diversity to my life and have even changed my opinions and perceptions.

ThreeSixty Journalism, another summer and school-year program I’m enrolled in, has helped me decide what I want for my future, in terms of education after high school, and has helped guide me onto a steady path toward journalism. Being a journalist requires you to think on the spot, which can be tricky. But thanks to the experience I have had, I am better prepared to do so.

Thanks to all these things, I feel prepared for what’s next. Through networking, I have met profession­als who have great connections and want to see me succeed. And the best part of my journey is that all the work I have done will help me toward my dream of becoming a journalist and later entering the law field. I have met students who are just as enthusiastic as I am, and who also have a passion for hard work and becoming successful.

I look forward to my future, knowing that every day is a baby step closer to my dream.

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