What does inspiration mean to you and how would you use your platform in your future career to inspire others?
To me, inspiration is planting a seed of ambition and motivation that will contribute to the betterment of our society. Through perseverance and passion, I plan to represent and inspire my community by enhancing access to quality care and advocating for mental health awareness, so together, we can overcome the stigma of mental illness.
Throughout my lifetime, my family has faced prominent mental disorders and structural inequalities that have ultimately inspired me to become the first in my family to graduate college. I live on the Westside of San Antonio, which is an urban, predominantly Hispanic area with my single mother and two younger siblings, Jack and Michael. All of our lives, my brothers and I have experienced the structural inequities embedded within our education system. San Antonio’s school districts are unique because we have a total of 17 school districts within a single city. Many of these districts were specifically formed to preserve the income of wealthier neighborhoods for their own children’s schools, leaving the income of the districts for poorer neighborhoods with far less money per student. As a direct result, students on the Westside of San Antonio receive inferior education in comparison to wealthier neighborhoods. Despite this, I have pushed myself to succeed in every environment over the course of my academic career.
I have seen the perseverance and sacrifices a person must make to create a better life, and I am ready to make these sacrifices myself. Despite his challenges with substance abuse, my father immigrated from Nicaragua at 5 years old and never once let his immigration status impede his desire to succeed and provide his children with a better life. Similarly, my mother has suffered from compounding mental illnesses since 1999. For my mother, simply surviving through her mental illness demonstrates immense strength of character and determination, which I hope to harness as I launch into the next step of my academic career.
In August 2020, I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and anxiety. During my time at an inpatient facility, I frequently witnessed abusive behavior towards patients where nurses would verbally abuse, misgender, manipulate, and silence patients. Advocacy is something that I am particularly passionate about, especially the rights of those experiencing mental illness to be treated with care and respect, and I refuse to sit idly by while people’s rights are violated. Though I reported the incidents, I continued to witness abuses. I began encouraging others to come forward, eventually inspiring six people to share their experiences. I value the advocacy aspect of my character because, through advocacy, I am capable of inspiring change. Change begets progress, and progress helps us move towards equity.
Furthermore, I am determined to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner, enhancing access to quality care and advocating for mental health awareness to overcome the stigma of mental illness. I hope to use my voice to inspire my community by advocating for my patient’s well-being and spreading awareness of San Antonio’s mental health crisis.
What are you currently doing to inspire those around you?
I am currently inspiring those around me by overcoming obstacles while continuing to serve my community. I am committed to putting forth my best efforts as I prepare to achieve my collegiate dreams. I plan to be the first person in my family to graduate college, and I am eager to continue growing and persevering through challenging times as I accomplish these goals.
Serving as a Summer Naturalist at the San Antonio Zoo was one of the most meaningful ways I have served my community. In this position, I was able to bring awareness to the extinction of numerous species, improve my leadership skills, and exercise effective communication skills with our audience. During group presentations, I encouraged guests to participate and engage, and I led discussions on particular endangered animals. Through visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning our group was able to be inclusive of all ages and learning types in hopes to not only educate but inspire guests to protect our wildlife. Since volunteering, I learned that education brings awareness to uncommon or misunderstood issues, and I hope to take that lesson with me as I plan to teach my community about stigma and mental health. Though my career aspirations have changed since 2018, I still have the same desire to bring awareness to prevalent issues in my community.
I am currently in the Health Professions pathway at Thomas Edison High School, and I am on track to graduate with a Medical Assistant Certification. The Health Professions program at my high school is my first step towards achieving my goal. Classes like medical terminology and anatomy have familiarized me with the medical field, and have continuously piqued my interest. Due to my mental health struggles throughout my freshman and sophomore years, my academic performance was not up to my desired standards. Over this past year, I have worked on both my mental health and my academic preparedness, pushing myself to achieve higher grades and enter the top 10% of my class. While I was focusing on my studies, I rejoined Gamma Sigma, a leadership development program for girls to partake in community service projects and prepare for success beyond grade school. In March 2021, I joined NHS, an organization committed to the values of scholarship, service, leadership, and character. In May, my college advisor nominated me for the Yale Book Award which recognizes outstanding high school juniors for their character, leadership, scholarship, and intellectual promise.
As I continue to serve my community, I hope to inspire and represent San Antonio, Texas. I have demonstrated resilience by overcoming my own hardships and setbacks. Through my journey into seeking higher education, my acts of selflessness will continue to serve others.
What you would do with the scholarship award if you were to receive it?
As with many young people, finances are one of my biggest concerns regarding my college career. I have committed myself to put forth my best efforts as I prepare to achieve my collegiate dreams of attending the Emory University to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner, but I will need help to reach my goals. The money from this scholarship will be used for books and fees to alleviate the financial burden.