In 2009 the “Running Start” program chose me as one of the participants in the Young Women’s Political Leadership Retreat. This opportunity gave me the tools and training necessary to understand political leadership skills and advocacy and not only in classroom settings but with practical application. My fellow participants were engaging, funny, motivated and curious which made me push myself to get the most out of this retreat. As the agenda unfolded the excitement grew especially in the surroundings of American University and Washington, DC. I gained clarity, and my past experiences as a volunteer in my community and social entrepreneurship suddenly became more relevant to my futures…my academic future, my employment future and my community future. I know more about who I am and that I am part of the future and the future is now.
Running Start also helped me to define and evaluate my work as founder and artistic producer of The Children’s Bilingual Theater. As a 10 year old I had an idea to put theatre and language together to get Spanish and Latino culture and history out to the community. I wrote letters and sent information about my idea to many community leaders and businesses. Sam Olens, Cobb Commission Chairman decided to mentor my endeavor and helped me raise $3,000 in donations and get schools to host the shows. In 2003 I founded The Children’s Bilingual Theater and premiered a show in 2004 with 17 kids 2nd grade to college age touring a bilingual play at 4 schools in Cobb County and Marietta. The Children’s Bilingual Theater not only brought students together, but brought community volunteers to help them make the show a reality. This project is inclusive, and encourages youth to work with a diverse group while exploring Hispanic language, culture and history and we have staged 4 musicals and 4 literacy events. I have led almost 200 volunteers, performing to over 5000 audience members and many school audiences and has raised over $10,000 for production costs and received over $30,000 in production grants and scholarships. My work with The Children’s Bilingual Theater is an effort to encourage my community to bridge the language and cultural gap through theatre arts and to exemplify and teach tolerance. Now Running Start has given me the opportunity to bring all these experiences together to forge a strong path as a community leader and perhaps a future legislator.