Nominated by: Dr. Oralia Garcia Dominic, Estamos Unidos
Hometown: Harrisburg, PA
Being one of the few Latinas in her school, 19-year-old Marialana Antonia Merrick did not let that get in her way from expressing her inner Latina, but motivated her to work even harder. Her school years in junior high and high school she was an active student, participating in various programs and activities. From president in eighth grade to high school cheerleading captain, she was able to gain valuable leadership skills. Marialana continues to advance as a student and is visible through her various titles she has earned, such as Girl Scout Ambassador, peer counselor, which has inspired Marialana to continue being a positive role model and mentor in college.
Marialana is passionate about being Latina, giving back to the community by helping others, and singing. At the Governor’s Advisory Council for Latino Affairs (GACLA), the Latino Hispanic American Community Center (LHACC) activities, or at a State Capitol Latino heritage event one can find Marialana volunteering. In college now, she quickly signed up to be a part of the African, Latino, Asian, Native American Society (ALANA), a diverse campus cultural awareness and mentoring club. This year, she will be an ALANA Diversity Student Mentor. Marialana achieved the highest level in Girl Scouts, and for over 12 years she participated in military collection drives, clothing/food drives for the needy, nursing home events, and mentored younger troops. She also assisted with GACLA’s first Latina Women’s Leadership Symposium, and was contacted to assist with annual Governor’s Latino Heritage events held at the state Capitol, both as a vocalist and volunteer. She is motivated by her strong desire to serve others and to become a prominent successful Latina!
Clubs and Extra-curricular Activities:
Throughout high school and college, she was elected to Student Council, selected Captain High School Cheerleading Squad, selected Big 33Classic Cheerleader, became Girl Scout Ambassador (highest level GS’), completed 9 month Leadership Harrisburg program, finished 3rd in state competition for her Eva Peron performance, invited to shadow the late Lieutenant Governor Catherine Baker-Knoll, introduced to Pennsylvania Legislature as upcoming future leader and served as the GS ambassador to the Governor’s Women Leadership Conference, Philadelphia, PA. Marialana is a dedicated singer, who is looking forward to releasing a record later this year. She is also interested in medical research and public relations.
What significant challenges or obstacles has she overcome in her life?
Being one of few Latinas in her schools, motivated Marialana to overcome many stereotypes and work even harder to stand out and be accepted as a leader. She was elected president in 8th grade by a student body of over 800, elected to student council in high school, and selected as a peer educator. Being accepted by diverse groups has not come easy. The challenge was fitting into the main stream as an accomplished student and never compromising her strong Latina roots and culture. Marialana went along with the many nicknames that came her way like “rican, spic, and wet back” never flinching, but even more motivated to be the proud Latina she continues to be! In the end, she always gained the respect and admiration of her peers. Surrounding herself with Latino professionals and mentors has and continues to help Marialana overcome barriers to becoming a successful Latina.
How is she a good example and positive role model for other girls?
Being a Girl Scout Ambassador and peer counselor, has inspired Marialana to continue being a role model and mentor in college, where she supports CONGA Women and the ALANA Clubs. She also plans to continue mentoring young girls through her involvement at the Latino Hispanic Community Center, where she plans to assist in the conduct of teen focus groups. Also, as a dance assistant for four years, she has inspired her young students to never give up and never settled for less than they deserve. In college, Marialana says she encourages her peers to be role models by not always doing what’s popular, but to stand up for what they believe in.