20 Latinitas Under 20

Young Latinas are paving the way as community leaders, activists and volunteers. A wave of young talented Latinas are ready to become the future leaders of America. These young Latinas are getting involved, acting as leaders and creating positive change.

Ana Ruiz

Ana Ruiz, 20 Latinitas Under 20

Ana Ruiz Age: 17 Heritage: Hispanic Hometown: El Paso, Texas Volunteer Experience: Volunteering at nursing homes, working with children, leading art workshops for younger kids, helping out around school, writing for Latinitas Magazine and helping recruit new members for clubs and community activities. What challenges has she overcome? She was accepted into a challenging early… Read more

Teen Media Academy Latinitas

Yuri de Leon, 20 Latinitas Under 20

Name: Yuri de Leon Hometown: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Age: 19 Volunteer Experience Yuri is a young lady that is definitely a leader. Even thou she has two jobs; she finds time to help her community. Yuri helps elementary kids do their homework; due that their parents don’t know English. When ever someone needs to go to the doctor,… Read more

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Stephanie Meneses: 20 Latinitas Under 20

Name Stephanie Meneses Age 17 Hometown Las Vegas, Nevada Volunteer Experience: I organize events at school such as a campus beautification where it gives students an opportunity to volunteer and receive community service hours for cleaning up trash on campus. I also organize a national event that is called Dimes for Down Syndrome where the school donates spare… Read more

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Maribel Velazquez, 20 Latinitas Under 20

Name: Maribel Velazquez Age: 18 Hometown: Volunteer Experience She is actively involved in LULAC. She sits as the district 3 director for youth. She is constantly trying to better the community through service and get others around her to do the same. She has outstanding volunteer hours, with over 100 hours of service completed in her high… Read more


Dianne Calix, 20 Latinitas Under 20

Name: Dianne Calix Age: 18 Hometown: Carolina, Puerto Rico Volunteer Experience I’ve been in LULAC for 4years and it is also an honor to be LULAC Youth VP of southeast. I motivate people to be part of LULAC and also volunteer in the community. We do fundraisers to be able to have enough money to go… Read more

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Makayla Santiago, 20 Latinitas Under 20

Name: Makayla Santiago Age: 19 Hometown: Volunteer Experience Makayla is a part of the sorority Sigma Gamma Phi in which she participates in community service events throughout Western New York. She is passionate about putting an end to bullying and works closely with the organization Kindness Above Malice. She loves to make people feel welcomed and she… Read more


Lauren Swerdloff, 20 Latinitas Under 20

Name: Lauren Swerdloff Age: 16 Hometown: Hollywood, California Volunteer Experience Since 2009, Lauren has been volunteering at the Hollywood Sunset Free Clinic, a non-profit organization that provides free health care services to more than 58,000 homeless, low-income and uninsured individuals per year, in the Los Angeles community. As a volunteer, Lauren has been commited to helping underpriviledge… Read more


Elizabeth Gonzalez, 20 Latinitas Under 20

Name: Elizabeth Gonzalez College: Bowdoin College (Brunswick, Maine) Age: 19 Hometown: El Paso, Texas Volunteer Experience: She has volunteered extensively throughout her life with the following groups: Animal Rescue League, Corpus Christi Church Can Food Drive, La Posada Home Inc. Shelter for Battered Woman, Ascarate Park Environmental clean up, DaVita Kat Walk and Latinitas Magazine… Read more

Big Sis


Indira Ortega

Age:18 Grade:Freshman in college Tell us about a cause that you are passionate about. Why did you pick this issue for your service project? Violence in Juarez. I chose it because I have friends that have been going through tough times because of the violence over there. What is the community need or problem? Why… Read more


Meet Erika

Erika Anchondo Age: 21 Cultural Background: Mexican-American Classification: Senior Major: Organizational & Corporate Communication What made you decide to go to college? I was fortunate enough not to worry if I was going to be able to attend college or not. My aunt wanted to make sure that I had a better life than she… Read more

Leading Latinitas for Girls

College Mentor: Patty Cuellar

Age: 20 Cultural Background: Hispanic Classification: Junior Hometown: San Antonio, Texas Major: Marketing & Spanish The reason I decided to go to college was because my mother always told me in order to be successful you need an education. That’s why I always strived to excel academically. I picked the University of Texas because my… Read more


Lety Greene

Career Spotlight: Mental Health Specialist

Career Spotlight Name: Leticia Greene Hometown: Veracruz,Mexico Employer: US Army Job Title: Mental Health Specialist What are some of your job responsibilities? I am primarily responsible for assisting with the management and treatment of inpatient mental health activities, and counsel clients/patients with personal, behavioral or psychological problems. What is your educational background? On the Civilian… Read more

Gabriella Landeros

Career Spotlight: Press Secretary- L.A. Federation of Labor

Name: Gabriella Landeros Job Title: Press Secretary for the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO What are some of your job responsibilities? I support over 300 labor unions in their media needs, prepare the Federation’s Executive Secretary-Treasurer for all media and speaking obligations, write speeches, and plan and execute media strategies for the organization’s campaigns. I… Read more

Karen Siles

Career Spotlight: Project Manager for IBM

Name: Karen Mariela Siles Hometown: Born and raised in Cochabamba, Bolivia; moved to the US, Northern Virginia area when I was 15 however due to a full time offer I moved to Austin, TX after college graduation. Employer : IBM Corporation in Austin, TX Job Title: Project Manager for IBM Cloud Organization What are some… Read more

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Latina Leader Valeria Chavez

Valeria Chavez A recent graduate of Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey, twenty-four year old Valeria Chavez has earned a law degree from the prestigious Mexican university. Driven by the injustices that she saw by everyday life, especially towards minors, she felt an internal calling to help those that were oppressed by their situation. During her time… Read more


Career Spotlight: Claudia Lujan

Entrepreneur/Writer  Young Latinos across the nation are making advances in professional fields that we were often underrepresented in. An aspiring writer and half-marathoner on her off time, Claudia Luján is now immersing herself in the entrepreneurship culture after graduating college. This is her story.    Claudia Lujan always displayed at intellectual curiosity for the world… Read more


Career Spotlight: Ada Alvarez Conde

Ada Alvarez Conde, Women’s Rights Advocate Position: Senate & Fundación Alto al Silencio Director of the Committee for Women Issues Hometown:  San Juan Puerto Rico Website: www.loquenodije.com Describe your work: I founded a non-profit to create awareness of dating violence and to prevent domestic violence. I’ve given more than 300 conferences in schools, universities, communities,… Read more


Career Spotlight: Lecturer

Carolyn Rhea Drapes is an instructor at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), she holds a PhD and imparts English and business writing classes. What are some of your job responsibilities? As a graduate student, I seek to use the dissertation process and time to create new knowledge and collaborate with my peers…. Read more

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Career Spotlight: Chief Communications Officer

Name: Yvette A. Nuñez Position & Title: Chief Communications Officer Employer: Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Inc. City & State: Philadelphia, PA What are some of your job responsibilities? I lead our $24M multi service non-profit organization’s fundraising, communications, special events, corporate relations, community relations, civic engagement and volunteer management efforts; serve as member of executive… Read more


Career Spotlight: Chief School Officer

Danna Diaz Position & Title: Chief School Officer, Area One Superintendent Employer: El Paso ISD City & State: El Paso What are some of your job responsibilities? I serve elementary and middle schools that feed into four high schools. They are Bowie, Coronado, El Paso and Jefferson/Silva. I work with principals and central office to… Read more


Latina Lawyers: You Can Do It!

How many times has it been said, “Law school is so hard”? The chances are probably several times. Like any form of higher education, law school is a challenging commitment that requires hard work and discipline. Instead of letting naysayers put ideas of “you can’t” in your head, think “you can”! Latinas are underrepresented in… Read more

Cool Clubs

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Latina Organization Spotlight: Latina A.R.M.Y.

Everyone deserves to have someone to look up to, to empower them, to give them advice, and to give them courage and strength to help them succeed in anything. A shining example of this type of dedication is the Latina A.R.M.Y organization. Started in 2009 in Shelton, Connecticut, this non-profit organization strives  “… to celebrate… Read more


Politically Active Latinas

The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) is moving forward several strategies to help empower the Latino community. Through trainings, outreach and advocacy efforts, NHLA works to identify and support entry-level through Cabinet-level candidates pursuing presidential appointments. They have been involved in supporting the rise of several Latino professionals now serving in some of the highest… Read more


My Experience with Debate

When I was first introduced to debate, it was kind of by accident. I didn’t necessarily go looking for the class; in fact, I didn’t even know that there was a debate team at my school. My friend was giving me a ride home after school but needed to talk to a teacher before heading… Read more


National Association of Hispanic Journalists

In high school, you have school newspaper or journalism clubs after school, but what happens when you go to college? Latino journalism students have a place of their own and it’s called college chapters of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. I attend the University of Texas at Austin and I happily report our group… Read more

Leading Latinas


Latina Spotlight: Nydia M. Velazquez

Nydia M. Velazquez, the Congresswoman, is originally from Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. She was born in a family where she was one of nine children, and was the first one in her family to earn a college diploma. Her passion for politics took her to where she stands today. She has shaped history numerous times during… Read more

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Spotlight: Rosa Guerrero

Written by Renee Malooly and originally published on Borderzine  Link to article: http://borderzine.com/2014/11/at-80-el-paso-folklorico-pioneer-rosa-guerrero-still-lets-faith-guide-her-steps/ Dressed in a bright orange jacket adorned with a necklace and a crucifix pendant, Rosa Guerrero flashed a warm smile, projecting the trademark youthful spirit and upbeat stamina that belied her approaching 80th birthday. “Age is just a matter of the mind,” Guerrero said… Read more


Latina Spotlight: Isabelle Salazar

I’ve met a series of professional women throughout my life. Whether they’re engineers, teachers, or business women, they’ve all influenced me in some way or another. However, none of them had managed to leave an emotional impression on me that went beyond awe for their strength and determination. It feels as if I’ve been searching… Read more


Latina Spotlight: Marlett García (MSW)

Originally from Presidio, Texas, Marlett García is a Victim Specialist at the Paso del Norte Center of Hope (a program under the Center for Children). What are some of your job responsibilities? To provide extensive case management services to victims of human trafficking to include crisis-intervention, immediate and long-term assistance, and referral support. To collaborate with… Read more


It is Rocket Science! Latinas Rocking the Science World

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, we want to honor and remind young, intelligent girls like you that everything is possible with perseverance, dedication, and confidence! We have gathered five biographies of women in science: a pediatrician, an astronaut, an inventor, a surgeon general, and a marine biologist. Before these scientists started running the STEM… Read more

Marlen Esparza

Latinas in Sports

We’re highlighting the top Latinas in sports history. These chicas poderosas know the importance of fitness, endurance, and passion for sports. Rebecca Lobo is an American television basketball analyst and former women’s basketball player in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) from 1997 to 2003. Lobo played college basketball at the University of Connecticut, where… Read more


Latinas in Comedy

Everybody, regardless of their age or background, wants to laugh and be entertained. After having faced a stressful day, plenty of us would revel in the thought of having our mood lightened by turning to our favorite comedy shows for a laugh. It is safe to say that with mediums like television, YouTube, and Netflix,… Read more

Film Producer

Hollywood Movie Director Carmen Marron

Carmen Marron is a filmmaker and the founder of Sparkhope Productions, a company dedicated to creating films that bring awareness to women’s issues and teen struggles. Latinitas got the chance to speak with Hollywood movie director Carmen Marrón about her upcoming Latino-focused film, and her advice to Latinitas on how to chase your dreams! Carmen… Read more


Latinas in Government & Law

March is Women’s History Month. To celebrate, Latinitas has decided to feature the wonderful and revolutionary women in history who have increased the representation of Latinas in government, politics and law. Sonia Sotomayor Sonia Sotomayor is the first Latina Justice appointed to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. She was born on… Read more


Leading Latina: Rosa Rios Valdez

Written by Prakriti Bhardwa The passion that Rosa Rios Valdez has for economic development is astounding. For the last 24 years, Rosa has worked tirelessly to build BCL of Texas, a statewide nonprofit, from the ground up, helping establish BCL as one of Texas’s most prominent lenders and non-profit organizations. She was there from the beginning,… Read more

My Diary

Photo Credit: Sofia Villarreal

Without Dance, What’s the Pointe?

From my first performance in a hula girl ensemble at the age of two, to my most recent dance endeavor as a part of a hip-hop crew in college, dance has been an inextricable part of my life for eighteen years now. When I reflect on my childhood and young adult life before college, most… Read more


Diary of a First-Time Voter

On October 31, 2012, I voted for the very first time. I was so excited I chose to do it the long way selecting each candidate instead of a straight party ballot. I even saved the neat little sticker with the Presidential seal and the year on it. I knew that the fact that I… Read more

Latina College Graduate - Latinitas

Diary of a College Graduate

Diary of a College Graduate: The End of a Five-Year JourneyFor the past five years, I have been a college student majoring in Spanish and minoring in Education. This May, my journey ended because I finally graduated and received my Bachelor of Arts at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). Looking Up to a… Read more


Diary: I Confronted My Attacker

I was sexually assaulted by my father’s brother when I was eight years old.  I didn’t understand what he was doing to me at the time.  It wasn’t until I was a sophomore in high school that I told someone.  My secret was out FINALLY.  My family’s reaction was not what I expected.  They said… Read more


Diary: My Sister Has Autism

Growing up my life has been a little different from the lives of others. I’ve grown up with a loving mother, a caring father, and a very special sister. We live in complete happiness and fight almost all the average day to day tasks that everyone else faces. What makes my life so different? My… Read more

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Diary: Coming to America

“We are going to live in El Paso in one month,” my mom told me one night in May. It was my senior year of high school and my mom decided to come move to the border town of El Paso, Texas from my hometown of Chihuahua, Mexico.  One night in May, they tried to kidnap… Read more

Dream Act Activists

Diary of a DREAMer

Name: Edilsa Lopez Age: 21 Hometown: Born in Guatemala There’s nothing ordinary about Edilsa Lopez. An accomplished and heavily involved college student, Edilsa has had to endure struggles that few college students face. Arriving undocumented to the U.S at the age of 12 from her native country Guatemala, Edilsa learned a new language and adapted… Read more

Teen Mom Diary

Guadalupe Dill was just 16 when she became pregnant with her first child, Ashley. Guadalupe’s parents divorced when she was just four-years-old. In a family of seven living brothers and four sisters, she was the second youngest of the twelve. Soon after Guadalupe’s father left the house, her Mother’s partner moved in and tried to… Read more


Diary of an Exchange Student

Editor’s Note: The following is a two-part reading of diary excerpts from a German student, Josi, who came to live in Austin, Texas as part of a student exchange program. This type of international program allows high school students to live in a foreign country for a semester or two. Usually, there are organizations that… Read more

God, I’m Christian and Gay

There are times when I look at the Bible and cry because I know that lesbianism isn’t what you want for me. There’s times when I just cry because I know you may hate me for it. I know you want me to be a happy girl. I know you want me to grow up… Read more


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Female Led Blogs Worth Checking Out

The beauty of the internet is that it serves as a platform to give everyone who has access to it a voice. While there is many negativity throughout the internet, here are a few Latina/Female run-blogs that need more exposure. Feminist Culture (feministculture.com) Feminist Culture was started by teen feminist Alexis Moncada in March 2015…. Read more


Girl Power at Pachanga Fest

Another success for Pachanga Latino Music Festival! On May 14-16 the music event and Austin cultural staple expanded to include cities Dallas and Houston for the first time. Last year Pachanga proved a huge hit when crowds flocked to see singer Julieta Venegas  and this year, its 8th year running, the fest continued to draw crowds… Read more


Mexican Girl Genius

Paloma Noyola Bueno has been called a genius and the “next Steve Jobs.” In 2013 Wired magazine, a popular American publication that covers technology and business, compared this Mexican girl to the technology innovator Steve Jobs. The magazine compared the ten-year-old Paloma Noyola Bueno to the creator of Apple, proclaiming her technological and mathematical genius…. Read more


Girls in Sports

Young Latinas are showcasing their athletic power, strength and competitive side in a wide range of sports. Girls are making a mark on the wrestling mat, golf course, soccer field, dance stage and many other sports arenas. Joining a sport has many benefits such as staying in shape, being healthy, learning how to work in… Read more

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Leslie Perez, 20 Latinitas Under 20

Name: Leslie Perez Age: 17 Heritage: Mexican-American Hometown: Galveston, Texas Volunteer Experience: She is heavily involved in her community in numerous ways. She is the president of Galveston’s Lulac organization youth council #12. She is a church volunteer at Strong Tower Christian church and was crowned Outstanding teen United Southern States 2010 as well as Miss Galveston… Read more

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Celia Hernandez, 20 Latinitas Under 20

Name: Celia Hernandez Age: 18 Heritage: Mexican Hometown: South Gate, California Volunteer Experience: Celia Hernandez has been a part of the arc Leadership Council since she entered high school. She quickly gravitated toward our civic and arts programs. Throughout her high school career Celia has helped organize various volunteer projects. I met her during her sophomore… Read more


Dominique Gonzalez, 20 Latinitas Under 20

Name: Dominique Gonzalez Heritage: Mexican-American Hometown: El Paso, Texas Volunteer Experience: Most of the volunteer experience she has is with Latinitas. Because  she is so passionate about the Latinitas mission to empower young Latinas, she decided to devote much of her time volunteering with this organization. Other than being a part of the Youth Editorial Advisory Board,… Read more


Geneva Marie Salinas 20 Latinitas Under 20

Geneva Marie Salinas, age 16 Hometown: Corpus Christi, TX Nominated By: LULAC Council #1 Feria De las Flores Volunteer Experience: She currently volunteers at Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas. As of this summer, she has volunteered given over 270 hours to the hospital in the past year.  She is also a Youth Leader… Read more

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Emma Hernandez 20 Latinitas Under 20

Name: Emma Hernandez Organization: Latino/a Youth Collective of Indiana Age: 18 Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana Volunteer Experience: Emma is an outstanding speaker and leader. She talks and leads from her heart and mind.  People listen attentively to her because they know something especially insightful and well expressed will be gained. People sense Emma’s intelligence and her… Read more

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Michelle Deaver-Arce 20 Latinitas Under 20

Name: Michelle Deaver-Arce College: McCallum Fine Arts Academy Age: 17 Hometown: Austin, Texas Honors: In 2010, Michelle was the youngest Artist (accepted by a Jury) to participate in the East Austin Studio Tour of over 400 artists.  She has been commissioned by the Austin Classical Guitar Society to create a painting based on of one… Read more