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Middle school Latina groups provide mentors, encouragement

Middle school Latina groups provide mentors, encouragement

Visits from a business leader, a lawyer and a chef have highlighted a spring of mentorship for Latina girls groups at Eagle Ridge, Metcalf and Nicollet middle schools in District 191.

Mary Lopez, cultural liaison for the three schools, says the groups and guest speakers are about ensuring Latina students know they have a place in their school and showing them what’s possible for their futures.

The three guest speakers this year were Iris Ramos, an immigration and family law attorney, Milissa Silva-Diaz, CEO and owner of El Burrito Mercado, and Amalia Moreno-Damgaard, a chef, consultant and author.

Silva-Diaz, who visited on April 4, shared her childhood experience as the child of immigrants, attending schools where she was the only Latina student, finding her passion for sharing culture, becoming a first-generation college student, and eventually taking over the family business.

“Get involved. That’s how you find what you love to do,” she told students at Metcalf. “Once that fire is started, you can’t get away from it. It can become a career, a lifelong passion.”

On May 3, the year culminates with a trip to the Latino Youth Leadership Conference at Augsburg University, where students will participate in workshops, presentations, activities, and art that promote positive youth development, leadership, and cultural identity in Latino youth. Lopez secured a grant through Walmart to make the trip possible.