What extracurricular activities and hobbies do you enjoy?
I am the Editor in Chief of my school newspaper, I participate in Model United Nations, play basketball and soccer, and love traveling.
If you could have dinner with anyone from history, who would you pick? Why?
I would have dinner with Cesar Chavez since he is one of the leaders in history who inspires me the most. He was not only able to lead a powerful civil rights movement, but he was also able to do it with purely peaceful methods. I would love to be able to get his advice on how to be an effective leader and how to inspire others to work towards difficult goals.
What has been your proudest moment?
My proudest moment happened this summer when I was on a State Department language program in Jordan. I had been studying Arabic for a couple weeks by that point, and I was finally at the level where I could hold a conversation. When I was in the down town area I needed to buy a bag and I ended up having a five minute conversation with the man in Arabic. The conversation was not very complex, and I am sure that I probably made more grammatical mistakes than I can count, but knowing that I could communicate with a local Jordanian in his own language made me incredibly proud.
If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
I would want to learn how to learn how to speak very powerfully. I feel that through school and activities such as Model United Nations I have become a good public speaker, but I really want to reach the level where I can deliver strong speeches in front of large crowds and be able to motivate others with my words.
What would be the title of your autobiography?
"Finding Home at 35,000 Feet" since I move around a lot and I do not enjoy staying in one place for too long, so I am happiest when I am headed somewhere new.
Why are you committing to the Inspired Year?
Growing up in a Cuban family, my grandfather who came over as a refugee in 1959 always stressed the importance of voting in every single election regardless of whether it was for sheriff of president. I feel that low voter turnout rates are an incredibly large problem for the United States and one which I hope to address in my own high school. If more young people got registered to vote and got involved with other important social issues, then I am sure that we would all be more content with our government and the state of the country.
What does civic engagement mean to you?
For me, civic engagement means that people decide to take an active role in creating the best society possible. People make their voices heard, and fight to make sure that their dreams for where their community, state, or country come to fruition. I believe that civic engagement is absolutely necessary to enact meaningful change, and I want to be very active in this regard in the near future.
What's your favorite thing about Virginia?
My favorite thing about Virginia is the diversity that can be found all throughout the sate. You can go to school and meet kids who have recently come to Virginia from all over the world, while at the same time meeting kids whose families have been living in Virginia for centuries. There are so many diverse opinions and beliefs which all come together to form the basis of this great state.
Where would you like to see Virginia in 20 years?
I believe that places should always be changing in order to best address the biggest issues of the present day, and I hope that Virginia will continue to keep changing over the next 20 years. I would like to see Virginia as a place that embraces new forms of renewable energy, continues to improve all levels of education, and reduces the cost of tuition at state universities so that poverty cannot prevent some of the smartest Virginians from getting the education they need to have meaningful careers.
If you could tell Governor McAuliffe one thing, what would you tell him?
I would tell Governor McAuliffe that I support the legislation that he has been trying to get through the state legislature especially in regards to his proposed gun laws, and that I hope he keeps pushing for these necessary changes and does not give up on making this state a safer place.
Is there anything else you would like people to know about you?
I have grown up living in Panama and the Dominican Republic most of my life and have seen elections where candidates have been suspected of cheating, so I am very proud of the system that we have here in the united States even if it is not perfect, and I am excited to get to work on the Inspire Program.