El Mensajero (English)

Posted: May 14, 2014

Last Updated: May 16, 2014

Girls' rally features new venue

EMC photo by Sam Oldenburg

Twelve-year-old Yarlinelys Rodrigues presents a traditional Mexican dance with other middle school students during the closing of ¡Soy Unica! ¡Soy Latina! Rally held by Latinas Unidas April 19 at Nazareth College.

By Annette Jiménez/EMC

PITTSFORD -- More than 100 girls swarmed Nazareth College for the 12th-annual ¡Soy Unica! ¡Soy Latina! rally sponsored by Latinas Unidas.

Nazareth served as a new venue for the April 19 rally, which was held in recent years at the University of Rochester. Planning committee members said that they hope to make the event a traveling rally.

"It's an opportunity to expose girls to different local colleges," said Frederique Thomas, the committee chairwoman. "We are growing our own leaders ... (and) they don't have to go away for school."

Girls celebrate selves at rally

Isabel Cordova, a professor of Latin American history at Nazareth and planning committee member, explained that she approached college officials with the idea and they immediately agreed to host this year.

And she could see why during the rally, Cordova said.

"We love it. Our campus and the girls are full of energy," she noted. "(Hosting) is a good return on our investment."

The event included a Zumba demonstration and workshops on self-expression, cultural dance and poetry. Yolanda Benítez, executive director of the Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection's Jobs Institute, served as the event madrina (godmother).

During the poetry workshop, high-school girls were asked to write words that describe their ideal selves and the barriers that keep them from becoming those people.

The words that Sarai Herrera, a 16-year-old sophomore at Rochester's Joseph C. Wilson Magnet High School, chose for her ideal self seemed to be contradictory: shy and outgoing.

"I like speaking my mind," Sarai explained.

Her behavior depends on the situation, she said. For example, she enjoys the rally because it forces her out of shyness.

"You meet new people and learn about different groups," she said.

For Heidi Robles, a 16-year-old junior at Rochester's Monroe High School, the barrier to becoming her ideal self of a nurse is "statistics."

She wants to avoid becoming just another statistic of a Rochester Latina who is a high-school drop-out, Heidi said. So, she works hard in school and tries to make good choices for herself, she added.

"I want to be able to take care of my mom like she took care of me," Heidi said.

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