Mariana was born and raised in Huntington Park, California. Her parents emigrated from Guatemala, starting their family in the United States. They worked long hours, in order to give their two daughters the best options in life. Her mother worked in a factory; her father, as a truck driver.
“In every way that they could, my parents would make sacrifices to support my sister and me in our education,” she said. Their work ethic inspires Mariana to strive to become a successful person in all aspects of her life.
She recently attended HSF’s Youth Leadership Institute (YLI), a four-day, overnight conference. These programs are held on college campuses across the country, and she was one of 130 Latino high school juniors who were selected from a large pool of competitors, to attend the YLI held at the University of California, Davis.
She says her greatest accomplishment, to date, was getting accepted, and she also speaks highly of the experience. “This program gave me so much information and allowed me to be in an environment where everyone who attended loved learning and had a motivation to learn. I can honestly say that this program changed my life.”
Mariana aspires to become a chemical or aerospace engineer with a long-term goal of becoming part of a team at NASA. She wants to help create the rockets, rovers, and satellites that explore the unseen world in outer space.
Her courage in aiming high is particularly notable, as she suffers from a form of anxiety that has, at times, held her back from accepting opportunities, or even leaving her house. Determined to take control of her symptoms, she says she took a chance in applying for YLI.
“Being accepted into the program has instilled motivation in me to believe that what I am doing is worthy of competitive programs. I now have faith in myself to be accepted into a UC or even an Ivy League institution,” she said.
Over the last few years, Mariana has become more active on her campus and will be a part of the yearbook committee during her upcoming, senior year.