Self-Respect is the Best Respect

Change the worldWhat comes to mind when you hear the phrase “self-respect”?  Ask yourself this: how much do you value self-respect? Self-respect is valued differently by people, but, bottom line, self- respect is something very important to have.

What is self-respect?

The reason self-respect is so great to have is because you know yourself best, and the first rule about having self-respect is being happy with you are. In order to be happy, you need to treat yourself with love and care first. Like who you are, and respect that. Never be ashamed of who you are.

Juli Mayhan, junior at the University of Incarnate World,  agrees that self-respect is a necessary thing to have, especially as a teen. “Young women are constantly judged by the way they look. A woman needs to hold herself with self-respect, and people will start treating her with respect. We don’t want to be used and taken for granted, so in order to get the respect we want, we need to have self-respect for ourselves,” says Juli.

Isabella Benitez, 14, says she has self-respect for herself by not cussing and not undergoing peer-pressure.  “I like that I can be myself by not having to dress a certain way or what every girl at school is wearing. I wear what I want to wear because it’s more comfortable for me. Also, I think I sound better by not having to cuss. Sometimes, it just doesn’t sound good.” Isabella knows what she likes, and she’s going by her rules! Isabella is setting a good example by not trying too hard for attention, like others may be trying to do.

If you feel something is not right, and this isn’t the usual choice you would make, then don’t do it. Impressing someone by being the unique lady you truly are is ten-times better instead of looking fooling and making a joke out of yourself.

Though there are girls who may be getting attention, some are doing it in a way that does not benefit them. You can get people to like you by not having to lower your standards. It will also be good for you to have those friends who value the same self-respect. Why? Because they will most likely be a better friend towards you by respecting how you are.

“I think self-respect [occurs] when a lady knows her worth and doesn’t settle for anything less than that. It also means standing by your morals and beliefs and not to let anything or anyone interfere with them. I have self-respect by standing by my morals and what I believe in and following through with them by the actions I make,” says Juli.

You may be asking how you can boost your self-respect. Well, here are 5 ways how:

  1. Try to always have good mannerisms, such as saying please and thank you, and always be considerate towards others. Others will respect you more for doing this.
  2. Never cuss! It is not lady-like and sounds very tacky. Use other words instead that show you are smarter than having to stoop low by using profanity.
  3. If you feel whatever you may be wearing isn’t appropriate or if it’s uncomfortable for you, don’t wear it.
  4. Love yourself for who you are, and also take care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as best as you can.
  5. Treat yourself the way you would want others to treat you! Demonstrate to others how much you value yourself and show them your worth. Hopefully, this will show them how you want to be treated.

Always remember, if you want to get further in life, it’ll be easier to have self-respect than to constantly seek everyone else’s approval and respect. With self-respect they will see you are a strong lady who has a good head on her shoulders; be classy!

From Inadequacy to Fabulosity

FRIENSHIPSometimes, when you are young (and even when you are older!), it is hard to look at your friends and feel that you do not measure up to them. You see them and feel worthless because they own nicer things than you or they get better grades than you. You might feel as if people like them more, that they are prettier in some way, or that there is something they have that you do not. What you are feeling is inadequacy, meaning that you fee “inadequate”; as if you are not good enough when you compare yourself to your friends and other people. What is worse, according to the NYC Girls Project, “girls report struggling with body image and self-esteem at younger and younger ages…”

“I grew up constantly comparing myself to others, always seeing how much better they were than me because they got the guy or the grades. I never believed that who I was was good enough nor would I ever be,” said Jamie Cardenas, 18.

It is always hard to remember that you are special in your own way because you cannot see yourself from an outsider’s point of view. All you see are you own mistakes and then you get caught up in believing that this what everyone sees.

The good news, though, is that this is not the case. What you probably did not realize, especially if you tend not talk about the days when you are feeling low, is that many of your friends and classmates are feeling the exact same way.According to the Dove Self-Esteem Fund, “7 in 10 girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way including their looks, performance in school and relationships.”

Everyone has these feelings at some point or another in his/her life and it is a struggle for many to get through it. This does not mean there is not any hope because there is!

Here are a few ways to help you overcome your feelings of inadequacy:

  • Talk to your friends about how you are feeling. You will be surprised by what you learn from them.
  • Find something you really like to do and keep doing it! You will get better at it, trust me. You will realize that if you have something you love to do, it does not matter what others think about it because it makes you happy.
  • Lose yourself during the moments where you feel really bad, whether it is by exercising, crafting, watching a show or a movie, or reading. Find something to take your mind off the issue, even if it is just for a little while!
  • If you are having suicidal thoughts, talk to a professional — like a counselor or a therapist. While a lot of people tend to shy away from this option, there is absolutely nothing wrong with talking to someone who can help. That is their job and they are more than willing to talk to you!

When asked if the feeling of inadequacy has gotten easier to deal with over time, Cassandra Cazares, 22, says “Compared to when I was younger, when I thought everyone’s opinion of me mattered, yeah. I find myself remembering … that even though I’m feeling low about myself, I am and will alwaysbe enough where it matters.”

Remember: you are not being judged nearly as hard as you think you are. Really though, you are your own worst critic. The sooner you realize this then the sooner you can learn to become comfortable with yourself and learn to love who you are. Whether you know it yet or not, you are a fabulous person!

9 Tips For The Busy Girl-On-The-Go

Time management

The road to success can sometimes be overwhelming. Here are nine helpful tips for your busy life!

1. List out your weekly schedule.

Organization is the most important thing to master when trying to balance all of your assignments and extracurricular activities. Seeing everything written down on a calendar is a lot easier than just going by a list you made in your head. There are plenty of cute personal planners available to match your style and personality, too!

2. Attack each task one at a time.

Check off each task as you finish them. It is better to complete one task and move onto the next one than to be overwhelmed with a lot of unfinished tasks. Rank them according to the most time consuming and get the easier – or most urgent – ones done first.

3. Time yourself.

Give yourself time limits to plan ahead, stay on track and prevent procrastination and stress that comes along with poor time management. Use a watch, set your phone’s timer, or find a friend to help you out!

4. Invest your time wisely.

Your time is precious. Prioritize it! Sometimes it’s hard to say no to friends who want to hang out when you don’t feel like doing homework, but success takes sacrifice. Remember, college is not too far away, so school should be one of your highest priorities. Did you know that colleges pay students with good grades to go to their school? That is called scholarships!

5. Never skip meals.

Your body needs healthy, consistent meals to stay active and properly fueled for all the wonderful things it wants to do. Skipping meals can disturb your body’s natural functions, such as lower your metabolism, increase fatigue and even cause unwanted weight gain. Try to prepare on-the-go snacks for yourself, and choose fresh fruit and vegetables over heavily processed foods when possible.

6. Imagine where you want to be after high school – and make it reality.

It is never too early to start planning for your future. And it’s always important to dream. The only thing that can prevent you from turning those dreams into achieved goals is letting negativity, including your own, hold you back. There are plenty of resources available and people willing to help you if you seek it. It just depends on how badly you want it and fight for it.

7. Talk it out.

If something in your life or schedule is bothering, worrying, or even exciting you, voice it. Whether it is a family member, best friend or school counselor, find someone whom you can trust to be your mentor or listening ear. Staying emotionally healthy and sane is crucial on your journey to success. Also, telling someone your goals can help them keep you accountable of reaching them.

8. Act professional.

A busy schedule is no excuse for a horrible attitude or the mistreatment of others. People are watching whether you know it or not. Positive relationships and a good reputation are invaluable. You will later need letters of recommendation for college applications, and if you act professional now, asking your teachers to write them will be no problem.

9. Set aside time for yourself.

Get away from the drama and other distractions and spend time with yourself. Pick up a fun, positive hobby to relieve some stress or learn something new. It is okay to be selfish. You would be amazed at how much more emotionally and physically refreshed you feel when you do things that make YOU happy – not what others want or think you should do.

Too many to remember? Check out the first letter of each tip, and what does it spell?

Everyone Needs a Mentor

IMG_2764Growing up, the term “mentor” is mentioned all the time. Some people, like myself, are not told what the word me ands or why it is important to have a mentor.  According to “Peer Mentoring Resource Booklet” by Dr. Glenn Omatus, a mentor is defined as “a knowledgeable and experienced guide, a trusted ally and advocate, and a caring role model. An effective mentor is respectful, reliable, patient, trustworthy, and a good listener and communicator.”

After experiencing being a mentor for another person, the realization of a personal relationship based on investment and guidance is established.

As Vanni Rodriguez, a junior at University of Wisconsin at Madison, said, “Finding a mentor is essential for life; they allow you to envision yourself as them one day. They can guide you and show you the right steps.”

To find the right mentor, one needs to figure out what qualities of another person are admirable, as well as beneficial, to further personal and professional development. It is also important to find a person that motivates self-betterment or is in a position of credibility.

To establish a mentor-mentee relationship, both individuals involved must be aware of the relation being built. The mentor is responsible of serving as a positive role model that demonstrates patience and encouragement towards the mentee’s personal goals.

Kim Bravo, a senior at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, said, “Patience is key to understanding ones story.” For young Latina women, in order to be able to truly open up to someone, there needs to be a strong connection.

When choosing a mentor, one must be aware of personal feelings about the individual. If being comfortable is felt and one is able to build trust on both the accomplishments and failures in life, then the necessary steps towards furthering the relationship into a mentor relationship are possible. Mentors can be commonly found within teachers, co-workers, and older family members. But, again, mentors are anywhere; one must simply be aware and self-reflect on ourselves to discover the desired support needed for personal success.

Find someone you truly look up to and will be able have a strong and positive relationship. Having more than one mentor is up to you, but be aware of what you want in life, and know how a mentor can support you in your journey towards achieving these goals. To get the best experience with a mentor, keep in touch with your mentor; inform them about your successes as well as your obstacles. At the end of the day, your mentor is a life long supportive role.

A Latina in Tokyo

Traveling to Tokyo, Japan has been one of my most fondest memories.With a population of over thirteen million people, and being one of the biggest cities in the world, Tokyo, Japan is the perfect place to start a new journey. Known for having some of the world’s tallest buildings and having such high tech shopping centers, Tokyo offers many memorable experiences for any Latina. Whether you’re just there for the food or fashion, Tokyo, Japan has got you covered!

How My Adventure Started

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Being born in a Mexican-American family, I learned how to speak English and Spanish fluently at a young age. I was raised with the idea that communication between different cultures is very important, which has instilled a desire to learn more about different cultures and languages. When I was in high school, I decided to enroll in college classes at the same time so I could learn a different language. It’s been a dream of mine to be able to write in multiple languages and be able to talk to people from all over the world.

With this dream in mind, I narrowed down my options to learn how to speak Chinese or Japanese. I chose Japanese and enrolled in a class. Three years passed by and the opportunity to travel to Japan came up when my Japanese professor in my Japanese class announced a study abroad trip during the summer. I was hesitant on going because I had never traveled outside the country, but my Japanese professor encouraged me by stating that traveling to the country of a language’s origin would greatly improve my ability to speak Japanese. I decided to work a part-time job at a hair salon while going to school full-time so I could save up to help pay for my trip. My freshman year of college had come to an end, and I was very excited at the fact that I would be traveling and experiencing a whole new world and culture during the summer.

Experiencing Japanese Culture

One of the big things that I expected to experience in Japan was culture shock, but our professor made sure we immersed ourselves in the Japanese culture through several workshops and events. I was able to wear a yukata, which is basically a summer kimono, during my trip. The traditional kimono is expensive and mainly for formal occasions whereas the yukata is used for more casual events. A yukata is just as beautiful as a traditional kimono and is made of lighter material. I also tried wood block painting, a traditional Japanese art that takes years to master. Alongside my classmates, I was able to take Taiko drum lessons and also carry a Japanese mikoshi for a summer festival in Kasukabe city! Aside from these events, the culinary experience was also very memorable.

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Japanese and Western Food

I’m a huge food lover. I love food and I love to try out new things just as long I know what’s in it! Not only did I try new foods, but I learned sitting etiquette when it came to really traditional restaurants. Some traditional Japanese restaurants didn’t offer chairs and required you to sit on the floor while you ate. I didn’t come across many of them while I was in Tokyo, but there were several of them in the surrounding cities around Tokyo. I ate everything from actual Japanese sushi (the California roll does not count), ramen, Japanese omelet, and gyoza (dumplings – my new love! Although, there were several times when I did miss some of the fast food from back at home, one of the best things about Japan is the food. When I wasn’t obsessing over the food, I was amazed by the fashion scene.
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Japanese Fashion

Something that I truly enjoyed about my stay in Japan was the fashion scene. At a really young age, I discovered my love for fashion and have been a fashion junkie ever since.  The clothes are really affordable and I really liked how Japan likes to recycle fashions and designs. Plus, the shopping environment was a lot of fun. If there was a certain shirt that I wanted, I could find it in multiple stores and save money by comparing the prices. At the time of my trip, I wanted to buy a Boy London hat because it was a popular item in Japan at the time. I first came across the hat inside a mall for around $30, but at a different store it was $6. I stuck with a budget and wound up having 15 outfits under $100! There were several stores trying to be flashy with different colored lights. Tokyo is well-known for the fashion scene and now I can understand why.

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Sara’s Top Trip Highlights

Aside from the food and fashion, here are my top 5 Tokyo trip highlights.

945959_791757495049_767536244_n1. Yoyogi Park and Quetzalcoatl

While in Tokyo, my most favorite location ended up being Yoyogi Park — very famous and huge park in Japan. It’s free to enter and the park also leads you to one of the most popular places amongst teenagers in Tokyo (Harajuku). Our dorm was located right next to Yoyogi park so we went there frequently. It was one of my favorite locations because it was beautiful, but also because I found a Quetzacoatl statue! While exploring the park, I noticed that it was one of the few statues at the park. I walked up to it because I thought that the design looked familiar. When I was in elementary school, my school’s mascot were the Mexican Aztecs, and my art classes focused on a major project on the Aztec Gods every year. From second to fifth grade, I I always made sure that I included Quetzalcoatl in all my drawings and sculptures. Since then I’ve had an admiration for Quetzalcoatl because it symbolizes my own happiness as a child.

get-attachment (19)2. Tex-Mex in Tokyo

Tex-Mex food in Tokyo was a surprise for me, and it was actually pretty good! My classmates and I ended up meting a few awesome Japanese people and one of them actually worked at a Tex-Mex place. She ended up taking us there and it was exactly like a Chipotle that you would find in the U.S. It’s not one of the most exciting things ever, but I thought that it was pretty memorable and cool!


3. Disney Sea in Tokyo

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If you decide to take a trip to Tokyo, make sure to stop by Disney Sea! I had never visited Disney up until then, and it was a lot of fun! In Tokyo you can visit The good thing about Disney Land or Disney Sea. We chose Disney Sea because it’s the only Disney Sea in the entire world! It was very convenient because you can take a train that will take you there. Next time you decide to stop by Tokyo, make sure to make room for Disney Sea!



get-attachment (13)4. Semi-Climbing Mt. Fuji

Walking on Mt.Fuji, located inFujiyoshida,  was one of the best things I have done. Mt.Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan, so we came across many foreigners who wanted to see the real thing as well. My Japanese professor took us to a town called Fujiyoshida — the town itself is already located on Mt.Fuji. Since there are different levels when it comes to Mt. Fuji, my class were only able to climb the first few levels which mainly involved walking but it was still fun!



1209265_520425638028673_1068531910_n-15. Karaoke in Japan

Singing is a form of expression, so it’s healthy to sing Karaoke every once in a while. One of my biggest highlights was going out to karaoke in Japan. I think that it’s a significant experience because the origin of karaoke  started in Japan. Karaoke is very popular in Japan, and  will find multiple karaoke places in one area.The selection of songs in Japanese karaoke bars are not just in Japanese — surprise! Since American music is popular there as well, there are many English songs that you can sing-a-long to in case Japanese songs aren’t for you!


Now that you’ve read about my adventure, what are you waiting for? Start planning your own!

Creating a Résumé

latina girl on computerRésumés are a timeline of all your achievements. There should be a clear understanding of everything you have ever achieved in your academic or professional career the minute someone takes a look at your résumé. However, that does not mean you cannot have fun with your résumé! Whether it is with your font choice, page template, or type of résumé, make sure to make your résumé represent who you are. With a few tips and guidelines, you will create your perfect résumé with ease.

It is important to remember that a great résumé does take time to create.

“Whether it is for a job or a scholarship, a résumé needs to set a great impression for you,” said University of Texas student Sheyla Duran. “It can determine whether or not you get what you’re applying for.”

There are hundreds of people who are applying for the same job or scholarship as you. A judge or employer makes his/her final decision from a piece of white paper. Your piece of white paper needs to stand out.

Whether it is in paper or digital format, there are different types of  résumé formats. Many people choose to create an online résumé that will allow them to showcase their art, performances, experiments, etc — this is also called a portfolio. Although it does depend on the type of application you are submitting, an online résumé is a great way to showcase your work!

Most of the time, a traditional résumé (paper format) will still be acceptable. And before you begin to create it, you need to ask yourself: “What do I want my résumé to say about me?” Are you attempting to win an engineering scholarship? Are you trying to be hired at an advertising agency? Your purpose will be the star of your résumé – what you want to make shine.

If you are not sure how to organize the information, look up a résumé template if you feel uncomfortable creating one on your own. A simple Google search will provide you with many examples. A common template for a résumé has contact information at the top, followed by an education section, work and volunteer experience, leadership roles, affiliations, skills, and references. Some employers ask for an objective, which is a mini-personal statement on what you wish to accomplish. Now that you have a template in mind, it’s time to put your résumé together.

Getting Started

Your résumé will first begin with your contact information. How is someone supposed to contact you if you do not include it? This should include your name, mailing address, phone number, and e-mail address. As simple as it seems, things such as writing your phone number like 999.999.999 instead of writing it as (999) 999-9999 truly make a difference. Whether you want to center your contact information or put it to the left, make sure that everything is aligned and neatly organized. Organization is key!

Next is the education section.This section normally follows your contact information. You will include what school you are attending or are going to attend — some templates include a GPA section. However, if an employer or judge informs you that your résumé has to have an objective section, that would go on top of your education.

Your experience should be next. This section can be tricky if you have no work experience. Then this section would be dedicated your leadership roles and what you do within them or volunteer experience. There should be at least 3 bullets per example detailing what you did.

If you do have work experience, then list it here. The easiest way to do this is by listing your most recent position first.  Then, if you have leadership experience that would go in a following section titled “Leadership” or “Affiliations.”

Next, you should consider adding your skills. Listing your skills is the easiest way for employers or scholarship judges to pinpoint the things you’re good at. If you have any awards, that can also be listed in a section below your skills. Watch what you list in these to sections though. It might be fine to list social media as a skill if you’re applying for something having to with communications. If you’re applying for nursing school, social media might not be such a relevant skill.

Your résumé, two at the most, but three is excessive. Some templates include courses or interests that are relevant to the position you are applying to. Things such as courses or interests really depend on whether you have room on your résumé. They are not things that are urgent, but do not harm your résumé if they are mentioned.

Something that will harm your résumé is its look. Keep everything consistent. This means that if you decided to use Times New Roman, size 16 font for your headings, all headings need to look the same. Adding a splash of color may boost the look, but going overboard or using irrelevant graphics may make your résumé look unprofessional. Stay organized and kept it neat.

According to incoming UT freshman Gabriella Uriega, “making a résumé while your still in high school is tough.”  But creating a résumé at any point of your life should not be hard. Be consistent, precise, short, and honest. Your résumé will allow you to achieve your dreams.   Don’t be scared of it! Make it work in your favor instead.

Leading Teens: Title IX

20140412_114233At the age of 16, Priya Ramamoorthy, Kavya Ramamoorthy, Maanasa Nathan, and Smrithi Mahadevanare  completed and presented research on Title IX (law which advocates for gender equality in educational programs) at the National History Day  (NHD) competition. Latinitas interviewed these passionate chicas about their research concerning the NHD competition.


What are all your backgrounds – Indian-American? Sri Lankan – would love to share that.
We are first generation Americans with parents from south India. Our parents’ first language is Tamil.

Please, each of you, share your age, favorite volunteer service/community action you like to take, favorite Latino food you like to eat and most important value your parents instilled in you.

Maanasa- I am 16 years old. I don’t really have a preference on community service; I take all the opportunities I get to volunteer and give back to the community. My favorite Latino food is Enchiladas. The most important value my parents instilled in me would be to never forget who you are because the world is always going to be changing, and your personality, morals and values are what are going to define you forever. Basically follow your dreams, but don’t lose who you are in the process.

Smrithi - I am 16 years old. I am head of a non-profit organization called Racquet Readers, where we collect slightly used books from stores and distribute them around the South Austin community. Our goal is to promote literacy by organizing events and setting up libraries in community centers as well as hospitals. My favorite Latino food would have to be bean and cheese Nachos, with sour cream and pico de gallo on top. The most important value my mother has instilled in me is that success does not come easily. You have to work hard for everything, and put 100% of your effort into everything you do; only then can you be successful in life.

Priya - I am 16 years old. I love working with kids of all ages, and through Girl Scouts I volunteer every summer for our Service Unit’s Day Camp -my favorite part is helping out with arts and crafts. My parents have instilled in me the importance of reaching out to others and also the art of communication. I am naturally a shy person, but, through my parents pushing me towards volunteer opportunities that force me out of my bubble, I’ve noticed that I have started to overcome this challenge and be more outgoing. My favorite Latino food is authentic arroz con frijoles.

Kavya - I am 16 years old. Working with others is something that I enjoy. Some of my favorite volunteering experiences have come from working with students and teaching them about programming robots and attending a leadership camp last summer where I was able to work with and meet a variety of groups. My parents taught me to believe and have confidence in myself. When I open myself up to others and carry myself in a confident manner, I find that a world of opportunities open up. My favorite Latino food is churros with hot chocolate.


Explain how the four of you got from presenting on Title IX to Voter Registration?

Our research on Title IX for the National History Day (NHD) competition, led us to recognize the importance of grass root organizations like the American Association of University Women (AAUW) for their great efforts in the 1970s and on-going active role in women’s rights today. When we were attending the NHD competition in Washington D.C., we were invited to visit the AAUW headquarters. During our meeting we learned the current initiative of AAUW was to increase women and minorities access to the ballot box. We also got the opportunity to participate in a Voting awareness promotion at the AAUW office. This got us thinking about the importance of voting, a fundamental right and the most powerful political instrument available to every citizen. The 2013 NHD competition enabled us to research voting rights in depth, and we were surprised that this basic tool was denied to many minorities until recently. And 2012 being an election year, got us thinking that we four would be eligible to vote in the next presidential election. Being women and minority voters, we realized that new barriers to voting could impact us as well. We have wanted, ever since, to get involved in helping minorities and the younger generation become registered voters and active participants in our democratic process,” said Manasa Nathan.


What’s happening today that discourages people of color from voting?

The recent court case, Shelby County v. Holder, struck down important provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Justices ruled that the trigger formula (Section 4), which decides the states that fall under the pre-clearance measure (Section 5), was unconstitutional because it was outdated, in effect nullifying the clause that guarded against new voting barriers. Many states have taken advantage of this verdict and have passed new discriminatory laws that deter minorities ability to vote, like photo Voter ID laws and gerrymandering plans. Texas has just passed a stricter photo Voter ID law and is in the process of passing a new redistricting plan – a plan to redraw the boundaries for voting districts. The Voter ID law, according to Ari Breman from Nation Magazine, could disenfranchise up to 800,000 people due to the requirement of a government issued ID -an added cost for voters. Cutting early voting days has become a recent trend in some states. The long lines caused by this can deter people from voting. The ever evolving barriers to voting that pop up each day highlight how the fight for voting equality is not yet complete, and it is the task of the younger generations to step up now and take an effort in ensuring that everyone can fully exercise their right to vote,” said Smrithi Mahadevan.


In your opinion, is the attack on immigration related to fear of a new diverse voting population?

The attack on immigration stems from various causes, economic concerns of a new immigration group in the workforce, party politics, etc. A fear of a diverse new voting population, in our opinion, is a significant factor in causing this attack. Voting is power. Many see a new immigrant group -based on ethnicity- as a single entity that will vote on certain party lines. For this reason, Texas, being a state with a heavy influx of minorities, is drawing the attention of both the Republicans and the Democrats,” said Priya Ramamoorthy.


What were things about voting rights you learned that shocked you? Good and bad.

One vote is one voice. Access to the ballot box grants you the opportunity to raise your voice and be heard on local, state and national issues that affect your life. Citizen coalition groups continue to provide a national voice on minority issues influencing the outcomes of legislation. We must remain vigilant in protecting this basic right because one vote is one voice and that voice must be heard. However, new challenges to the voting arise every election cycle. We, in turn, should honor the legacy of those who fought to enfranchise minorities, by valuing and exercising the right to vote,” said Kavya Ramamoorthy.


You can read more about these topics, and view their NHD project, at: - Title IX: Empowerment Through education - The Voting Rights Act of 1965: One Vote, One Voice


Rooming with a Sister

RLP_Latinitas_Activities Photos-27Sharing a room is like being a married. You do not have to share a bed, but everything around you – your TV, your space, your window view – is shared by the person whom you’re living with. It might seem intimidating to share your bedroom, one of the most intimate spaces for someone, with another person, but when it comes to doing this with your sibling however, things are a bit different. Sharing a room allows a relationship to grown both in negative and positive ways. While it might not be the preferable situation for some people, sharing a room is something that will not always stay that way. So learning what to do so is necessary.

For many sisters, sharing a room might be an invasion of privacy. Michelle Peña , a Sophomore at Stephen F. Austin State University, said sharing a room with someone is tough, but worthwhile.

“I shared a room with 2 other people till I was 5 [and] then I shared a room with 1 person,” Peña said.

Peña spoke about how her experience  prepared her for having a roommate in college. She described situations where she would have to wake up at the same time as her older sister and also let her take naps after school. “[You have to] be patient with the other person,” she said.

For some sisters, the living situation might be a bit more difficult.  Like any type of relationship, communication is very important.

If you have never shared a room with another person, and are about to share one with another family member, it might be hard to adjust to this change at first. For Peña, respecting each other’s space is something that is extremely necessary. She advised splitting a bedroom in half could mean the room is divided equally. “It was hard having to share a room with so many people,” she said, “it was always crowded and nothing really felt like it was mine.

Before you start claiming a side of the room, talk and spend some time with your sister. The issue might be a misunderstanding, so talk to her first.Whether you’re the older or younger sister, make an effort to talk to your sister and ask her what’s new. Ask her about her day at night, or talk to her about her plans in the morning. Great communication is important. Even though you are related, sharing a room it does not mean that your relationship will be strong as ever.

Sharing a room is one thing, but actually having a relationship with one another in that room is what really matters. If there is a television present, watch shows that interests both of you, and it can be a way to enforce a day and time in which both of you will spend time together.

This is similar to what Reyna Nevarez, a third year student at the University of Texas at Brownsville and Peer Health educator experienced growing up.  Nevarez, her mother and two sisters moved homes while Nevarez was in high school. “We always had to share a room,” she said.

But something a bit different from Peña’s experience is how Nevarez always tried to help her younger sisters with their homework. “Because of it, we were able to spend more time together,” she said. “It was hard to afford expensive things, so we needed something to do.”

Spending more time together let Nevarez and her sisters find it easier to share a room.

When in doubt with any living situation, reaching out to a parent is the best and safest option in creating a safe and happy environment in a bedroom. It can be tough to express feelings toward one another, so your mom and/or dad can help you and your sister have a safe and fun room-sharing experience.

My Mom, My Hero

We count on our mothers to play many roles in our lives. They are there for us whenever we need them to be our teachers, role models, idols, friends and heroes.  These Latinitas share the special role their mother plays in their life and what makes them special…

My Best Friend by Paulete Espinoza
I grew up with three brothers, no sisters, and my mom and dad. I was basically surrounded by boys all the time, it wasn’t anything different or weird for me, but quite the opposite. I’ve never had good luck finding friends that are girls, on the contrary, they bullied me when I was little. All I have is my mom. She’s my best friend, my teacher, my role model, and my other half. I can talk to her like a best friend, telling her everything about anything. She would encourage me and give me her best advice. We fight like sisters, we go shopping together, and we even have some hand signals that only we both know. We can tell what the other one is thinking with just one look. We have a strong bond with one another that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. She’s a psychotherapist. Every time I want her advice about something, she tries treating me like a patient and. She goes all “freaky Friday” on me and starts saying “And how do you feel about that?” I sometimes have to yell at her because I don’t want therapy, I want a friend. Then she realizes what she’s doing and tells me “Oh my god, no way” and that’s when I know my best friend is back. She’s the sister, and best friend I never had.

My Idol by Patty Ramirez
My name is Patty. I am currently seventeen years old and I am about to graduate from high school. I am the middle child out of three girls and the daughter of divorced parents. My parents have been divorced since 2007, after the divorce my sisters and I continued living with my mom. Considering the fact that this is about my mom I’ll tell you some things about her. My mom’s name is Martha and she’s 46 years old. My mom is the definition of “idol.” I have been extremely blessed to be granted with the strongest, smartest and prettiest mom in the world. I assure you that by me describing my mom doesn’t do any justice. She is the kind of person that is willing to help others when she has the ability to do so. Just before my parent’s divorce they had purchased a brand new house in which they both planned on paying for together with both their incomes. Unfortunately, about one or two years after their purchase they finalized their divorce. It seemed as if no one had faith in my mom keeping our new house with her one paycheck income. After difficult months my mom realized that with the job she had then she wouldn’t be able to keep the house. She then decided to become a truck driver who worked out of town. With my mom out of town this meant that my sisters and I would have to mature extremely fast in order for my mom to be comfortable working up to 2 weeks at a time on the road. Just as it was hard for us to grow up I can imagine how hard it was on my mom to miss her three daughters growing up. I’m grateful to this day that my mom has managed to keep the house everyone thought she would lose. My older sister became a huge mother figure for my younger sister and I by attending our award assemblies to taking us to get school uniforms. Although my mom couldn’t be ,she made it feel as if she was, she would send us good morning messages and she would plan birthday dinners if she knew she wouldn’t be here on our actual birthday. My sisters and I grew up knowing that she was working out of town to support us and give us what we needed. Currently, my mom is a worker in Carlsbad working two jobs transporting water and working up to 24 hours a day. My sisters and I are all attending school working hard to finish so one day my mom won’t need to. In my opinion, my mom is the perfect mom and she deserves the world.

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo

Flag_of_Mexico_(reverse)Cinco de Mayo is probably one of the biggest holiday that most Americans do not understand. Most often confused with Mexico’s Independence Day, which is actually of September 16, Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Battle of Puebla that took place in Mexico City on May 5, 1862 after a French army was sent to recover some war debts. The army was successful in invading the upper part of Mexico until it reached Mexico, where local residents took a stand and rebelled, making the Battle of Puebla a Mexican victory — even when they were outnumbered 2 to 1. While the French still managed to take over Mexico City after this battle, the successful confrontation against the French is what makes it a holiday. It is believed that if the French had won this battle, the outcome of the American Civil War would have also been affected. Therefore, as referred to by many, Cinco de Mayo celebrates the most unlikely victory and has a large American history behind it.

When interviewed by the Associated Press, Jody Aguis Vallejo, a professor at the University of Southern California (USC), referred to the Cinco de Mayo celebration as something “very similar to how Irish Americans celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.”

Brian Salazar, a 9-year-old, did not know what Cinco de Mayo was. “It has something to do with Mexico, but I don’t know.”

Jasmine Belmares, a 10-year-old, also mentioned that she did not know why some people celebrate the fifth of May. “I think we’re having a party at school,” she said.

Considering it was not the first time France had invaded Mexico (i.e. The Pastry War), Cinco de Mayo is not a very big deal in Mexico. Mexicans are more likely to celebrate Mexico’s Independence Day, September 16th, than Cinco de Mayo. If you go to Puebla, things are a bit different. But in the majority in the country you will mostly find people having a feast filled with mole and carne asada, sort of like a large family dinner, similar to what Americans do on Thanksgiving Day, going on in this day.

The biggest Cinco de Mayo celebration however, takes place is Los Angeles, California. On Cinco de Mayo, downtown Los Angeles has the biggest type of block party style celebration it can, filled with food, music, and parades. According to their website, there are over 300,000 attendees every year.

Across the United States, particularly in a town largely populated by Mexican Americans, Cinco de Mayo is a day of celebration and honoring of all things Mexico – its people, its culture, and its successes. However, it is not an official holiday in Mexico or the United States.Different people and different places have different ways of celebrating the day.

If you want to learn more about Cinco de Mayo, here is a video recap:


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