Karina Mariela Cardenas attends Patrick Henry High School. She has been accepted to over eight universities, including UC Berkeley, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, SDSU, and UC Santa Barbara. She is interested in studying Criminology or Sociology, and is passionate about working with underserved populations, especially the Latinx community.
Karina loves art and nature. She paints and draws. When she moves away for college, she will miss exploring San Diego’s mountains, desert, and beaches.
Being able to influence others to “dream more, learn more, do more, and become more” is what motivated me to make a difference in the Chicano community.
These past two years, I have served as President for M.E.Ch.A, a student organization that promotes higher education and cultural identity in the Chicano community. As I carried the responsibility of continuing to educate others about Chicanismo, I first began by expanding the club from 6 to 45 members. This journey was difficult, but not impossible. The legacy of increasing the visibility of students like me on my high school campus rested on my shoulders.
I am responsible for delivering weekly presentations about the Chicano identity and events occurring within the community. Before helping others, we had to work from the inside out, first noticing the things that were happening within our own campus. I began to discuss about the imbalance of having 2 to 3 brown students in each AP/Honors class. Students would bring up the fact that our own high school counselors underestimated our abilities to take the more rigorous courses. My inspirational words of surpassing societal expectations to “become more” than just a label was felt throughout the organization with a desire to learn more.
With presentations and high school conferences, I empower my peers to “dream more” by becoming politically and socially aware of the raza struggle in education. We aspire to break the social norms of having more Chicano students in prisons rather than schools, but first it has to start with us. They now “do more” by challenging themselves with those rigorous courses they onced believed they couldn’t handle. I also introduced my peers to the concept of Chicana/o studies, which they had the opportunity to “learn more” about at the M.E.Ch.A high school conferences.
Through my leadership role, I inspired individuals to become “MeChistas”, by opening their minds to possibilities in higher education and to embrace their Chicano identity. I am proud to serve as President. La Raza Unida.
– “Senior Saturday” blog post by Rea Concepcion, Academy Instructor at Reality Changers