STM junior Veronica Cecilia Salinas received the Hispanic Youth of the Year Award from the United Migrant Opportunity Services (UMOS), a nonprofit that provides programs and services to improve the employment, educational, health, and housing opportunities for underserved populations, at the organization’s annual Hispanic Awards Banquet on Saturday, October 19 at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. This award honors Salinas for her enthusiastic involvement in and advocacy for her community.
As a proud Latina, this recognition embodies Salinas’s passions and hopes for the future. Her path towards this award began when as an eighth-grader at Notre Dame Middle School when her teacher encouraged her to apply for the Summer Youth Institute at Marquette University Law School. Through this program, she learned more about the law and potential careers in legal services. The program further sparked her interest in law, and during the summer before her freshman year at STM, she interned at Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren, a large law firm with offices in downtown Milwaukee.
The Salinas family values community involvement, especially within the Hispanic community, and Veronica’s parents have always ensured that she had opportunities to serve. Along with competing in pageants, modeling, and dancing folklore, she regularly volunteers at community events, helping her gain professional skills while building her network and social capital.
Salinas finds inspiration in being able to do things that the elder women in her family did not have the chance to accomplish, and she wants her work in the community to serve as an inspiration to other Latinas to continue to persevere. Salinas’s mother, who recently earned her college degree, motivates Veronica to continue working hard, even when things seem overwhelming.
Already filled with ambition, receiving this award motivates Salinas to continue pursuing her passion for community service. Among the many ideas she has to improve her community, Salinas hopes to create a high school counseling program where teens can anonymously receive mental health and emotional guidance from trained experts. For Salinas, advocating for those in the community who cannot fight for themselves is the fundamental goal of service work.
Attending STM has helped Salinas understand and expand her future goals. While STM was not initially her first choice for high school, Salinas feels blessed for the opportunities STM has provided her. She credits her teachers for helping her “dream bigger” with her academic, professional, and personal goals.
Congratulations, Veronica, on this incredible achievement!