Carolina was born in Astoria, New York, the youngest of three sisters. Her parents had emigrated from Ecuador. Her father worked as an industrial mechanic for a jewelry company, and her mother began as a travel agent and now works as an executive secretary for a church. After they divorced, her father returned to Ecuador, and her mother relocated the family to New Mexico.
She recalls the time of the divorce as being particularly stressful. There were financial challenges, her eldest sister had just started college, and the next eldest was about to do the same. But, she says her mother was determined to see to it that all three would still receive quality educations—regardless—and constantly reminded her that “’even though at times it seems like life can take anything away from you, it can't take away your ability to learn, unless you let it.’”
She adds that her mother and sisters continue to be role models. “I look up to them whenever I feel like I can't do something, or I'm not cut out for it,” she said.
Today, as a student at Albuquerque Academy, she maintains a busy schedule in and out of the classroom. She is a member of her school’s cross-country and track teams, Model United Nations team, and a cappella group, in addition to participating in her school’s dance and drama programs.
She also volunteers at the local Ronald McDonald House and has been involved in several community service projects, including serving as a tutor through Read to Excel, a tutoring program for underprivileged refugee children held at her local church.
Read to Excel was triggered by research she did with her friends that indicated many New Mexico children fell below their grade level standards in reading and math. She adds that “tutoring has been a humbling experience.”
Last year, she was one of 104 students selected to attend the Hispanic Scholarship Fund’s 2015 Youth Leadership Institute (YLI) at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. YLI is a four-day, overnight conference that gives outstanding Latino high school juniors the practical tools they need to set a course for success in college and career.
Her goal is to maintain good grades throughout the rest of high school and college, and to find a career that “makes me happy to go to work every day and makes a positive impact on my community.”
Asked about the impact HSF has had on her life, she says, “HSF is helping me achieve my goals by showing me all the options and possibilities… out there for attending college and leading a successful life.” And she adds that “HSF has opened my eyes to all the opportunities that may be out there for me, and has made me even more hopeful that my college experience will be a positive one.”