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 deep kindness together. They are moved by her authenticity and they understand the points she wishes to make because she is able to bring everything down to earth while retaining clarity.  People deeply trust Emma because of her consistency, honesty, her humble but simultaneously strong manner, and her high integrity.

What challenges has she overcome?:

Emma was born into a mixed status family! Both of her parents are undocumented immigrants.  Emma recently co-wrote an article about the immediacy of the Dream Act which propelled her to become one of the Indiana Hunger Strikers. They very effectively secured a “YES” vote from both state senators as well as organize and mobilize alliances and community pressure on all 9 Indiana U.S. House of Representatives. This past summer, she led her Campesine Youth Academy team through a challenging participatory action research process that involved in-depth interviews, surveys, and producing a film that would be used to educate the community. Their film “Mamachismo” is excellent work! The issue they were investigating was the role of women in our society. She is a big reason why Latina/o youth in Indianapolis are standing up!  It is because of her heart and mind that she just received a 4 year full paid scholarship to college where she will double major in art and journalism.

What makes her a leader?:

She knows that education is for liberation and freedom. It is not just skills, higher income, and privilege. She wants an education to be an active agent in the process of cultural formation and cultural change; to get highly developed and go back and to give back to her community in Indianapolis, Mexico and the world.  Emma also sets an example to her two younger siblings and other youth. As an older sibling she has been a role model for not only her family but for aspiring and newly emerging Latina/o community in Indiana.  She is undoubtedly a one in a billion sort of person. She has a calling to make significant positive changes in society.

What extra-curricular activities is she involved in?:

Currently, Emma works with Indianapolis youth members of the Latino/a Youth Collective of Indiana, Campesine Youth Academy, and the Campecine Film Festival.  Emma operates within the philosophy that regardless of race, culture or social status, all students have the ability to acquire knowledge.  She believes in empowering youth to become critical change agents who are prepared to transform their communities while also developing within those communities.

How is she a good example and positive role model to other girls?:

In addition to her remarkable talent and determination, she remains riveted on the needs of children and youth, their families and communities, and their educational achievements. She pays attention to the goals of the organization, change strategies when necessary, and shares credit for successes. She is a reliable and an insightful critic of her own projects. A gifted, inspiring public speaker, she also knows how to work with small groups and individuals, engage in team building, and capture these interactions on tape. She is a leader and an excellent collaborator and colleague – another rare blend of character and ability.  She wrote, directed, and produced Mamachismo, Huevo Estrellado, and The History of the World as Told by Eggs. This summer she was the first from her family to graduate from high school.  In addition to receiving a full scholarship to college she volunteered this summer to expand the prestigious Campecine Youth Academy in San Antonio, TX. She traveled over 1,200 miles to the southside of San Antonio to work with a grassroots community based organization named Fuerza Unida. She successfully implemented a 10-week summer youth program and trained 13 youth in youth participatory action research, videography, and community building facilitation skills. In short, she is a role model for young women and young men.

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