2015 Fellows

Nancy_Gomez_IMG_0001Nancy Gomez – KIPP Generations Collegiate

Nancy Gomez is class of 2017 at KIPP Generations Collegiate. She lives in Houston, and likes to volunteer at the Children’s Museum. She’s involved in the DIG youth group in church, and devotes some of her free time at the Mi Familia Vota office. She likes to help with issues that deal with animal abuse, the underprivileged and domestic violence. She believes that civic engagement is important, because it creates a positive change for her community.

“Civic engagement is important in the latino community because the community doesn’t have a lot of resources and being engaged can change the latino community. An issue that I am most passionate about is women’s rights. Women should have every right, because they are no less than any man.”



Abranam_Oilva_IMG_0001Abraham Silva – KIPP Generations Collegiate

Abraham Silva is an upcoming junior at KIPP Generations Collegiate, and is from the northside of Houston. His extracurriculars include playing soccer, skateboarding and biking around the city. He wants to help better his community, because he feels the issues affecting them will be overseen if they don’t voice their concerns.

“One thing that I would love to change in my community is the amount that is provided to us by the government for those who don’t live in the best neighborhoods. Yes, we have hospital and parks and schools, but they are not at their best potential.”



Jonatha_Tegegae_IMG_0001Jonathan Tegegne – Sharpstown International High School

Jonathan Tegegne is from the southwest side of Houston, and will start his freshman year this fall at University of St.Thomas. He was raised by a single mother, and despite not having the same privileges as other students his age, he praises his mother’s determination for instilling the value of hard work.

“It is due to her that I am where I am where I am today, and she is the reason why I have decided to go into Law and further help Latinos to be civically engaged for the city. I’m passionate about human rights, I want to be the voice for those who can’t be heard. I’m tired of seeing all these cases of violation of human rights, let it be the shooting of unarmed black males or the mistreatment of immigrants at the border. I want to fight that. I’m tired of just sitting around and just being mad about it. I want to participate and act on it.”



Nirka_Flores_IMG_0001Nirka Flores – Spring Woods High School

Nirka Flores is a senior Spring Woods High School. She is from Houston, but is currently living in Spring Branch. She’s involved with her school’s band and youth life. Although the area in which she lives in has a low population of Hispanics, she said civic engagement is important to her, because she hopes to become a leader of change to those that she loves and cares for.

“I’m most passionate about family and kids. I’m here in the world to bring peace to families and provide love to kids that don’t have families.”



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Alma Villareal- Raul Yzaguirre School for Success

Alma Villareal is part of the class of 2016 at RYSS. She’s from Houston and currently lives in the south-central area. She is interested in math and science, with the goal of becoming a neuroscientist. She believes civic engagement is crucial to the growth of her community.



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Danny Meza – University of Houston

Daniel Meza, a Houstonian with parents from Costa Rica and El Salvador, is the former civic engagement lead for Mi Familia Vota.

He joined ELL after being referred by activist/writer Tony Diaz, who is a professor at Lonestar. He considers himself an active voter, and is a firm believer that every person can be educated on the effects of voting.

At the age of 18, he has earned an associate degree and is now a student at the University of Houston. With a friendly and approachable personality, he is committed to helping his coworkers, friends, and family understand the importance of civic engagement. Although he admits that he feels some students don’t have the chance to attain their full potential due to lack of resources, he remains optimistic about his dreams of travelling the world and teaching English and Spanish. His advice to the youth is to be informed and aware of issues in their community in order to prevent injustice.

“Take the power back and dream big. A better and more equal society takes all of us.”



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Davy Perez – Sharpstown International School

Davy Perez is a senior at Sharpstown International School from the southwest side of Houston.

“It is important to be active in the Latino Community so we can support each other as there is many struggles, we as minorities, can face.”



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Dulce Ramirez – Raul Yzaguirre School for Success

Dulce Ramirez is a 17-year-old junior at Raul Yzaguirre School for Success. Growing up, she said she felt animosity toward the political system, and when she joined the ELL program, she realized that Latinos were not given the same educational opportunities as the other races. This compelled her to bring change in her community by participating in events that affected them.
“I started to compare schools and realized that some schools had better resources than others. They had more help regarding college education, better books, and offered more programs. To me civic engagement is very important, because without it, we cannot make a change for us to have a better future.”



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Guadalupe Rosas – KIPP Generations Collegiate

Guadalupe Rosas, a 16-year-old student from KIPP Generations Collegiate, joined ELL because she wanted to help her community understand the importance of voting and how it affects their daily life.

As the daughter of Mexican immigrants, Rosas is committed to registering seniors at her school to vote. She advises the youth to actively participate to avoid having government officials pass laws that negatively affect them.

Rosas’ role model is her mother, who struggled to get her children out of CPS after struggling with depression and a miscarriage. Despite the difficulties, her mother was able to regain custody of her children and later earned two jobs.

“I’m proud of her that she didn’t give up on us. My mother made sure to work two jobs and enroll us in a school where she knew we could get an education and be in good hands. I always talk about my future goals, and even though I’m not there yet, I’m going to programs that expose me to the field I wish to be in soon. I get something out of it that leads me one step closer to my dream.”



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Vanessa Vasquez – University of Houston-Downtown

Vanessa Vasquez is currently attending the University of Houston-Downtown, and lives in the southwest part of Houston. She volunteers with Mi Familia Vota, and is interested in social sciences and the safety of the Latino community. She believes that as a minority, the negative attitudes regarding Latinos have resulted in them being seen as “bad” and “unimportant.” She believes it is time for the Latinos to be heard and seen as equally important.



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Noelia Rosas – KIPP Generations Collegiate

Noelia Rosas is part of the class of 2017 at KIPP Generations Collegiate. She lives in the southeast part of Houston, and is involved in marching band, summer programs, and is interested in being an orthodontic surgeon. She believes that Latino civic engagement is important in the community, because unity and engagement will result in the outcome they desire.

“Latinos are the minorities in this country and they need to speak up because we are getting shut down. It’s time for us to inspire the next generation to speak up and engage in the government community.”



Nelson_Vasquez_IMG_0001Nelson Vasquez – High School for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice

Nelson Vasquez is from the southwest side of Houston. He likes to devote his time to his studies, but during his free time his interests include philosophy, sociology and boxing.

Vasquez believes civic engagement is important, because it gives people a voice and more control over their lives.



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Keren Flores – Spring Woods High School

Keren Flores is class of 2017 at Spring Woods High School. She’s from Houston, and lives in the Spring Branch district. She’s involved with her school’s band, softball team, and young life. She plans to major in business management and accounting at Texas Tech University.



Mario_Sidonio_IMG_0001 Mario Sidonio -Northbrook High School

Mario Sidonio is a 17-year-old student at Northbrook High School. He’s from Houston, and is living in Spring Branch.

He enjoys playing soccer and learning new things. He’s part of The Woods Project, an organization that creates wilderness education and exploration experiences that help students achieve success. He’s also involved with an organization called Spring Spirit that helps children develop healthy eating and exercise habits. He hopes to follow the footsteps of Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson by becoming an astrophysicist, working at a planetarium or working for NASA.

He also likes to be a leader and persuade people to start a change in what they believe is unfair.

“Voting is not only a privilege but also a responsibility. Therefore, people that choose not to vote are disrespecting democracy and being ungrateful of the great privilege to vote.”



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Israel Gomez – KIPP Generations Collegiate

Israel Gomez is part of the class of 2016 at KIPP Generations Collegiate where he’s a member of the KGC marching band, Mu Alpha Theta, Honors Society, and NASH. He enjoys engineering, computers, and space.

“Civic engagement is important because it shows you care for your community. It’s important to never under-represent any ethnic group, including Latinos.”



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Ximena Mondragon – St. Mary’s University

Ximena Mondragon will enter her freshman year at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, but she is originally from the northside of Houston. In college, she’ll be involved with her church, and the Marianist leadership program. Her goal is to become a Supreme Court judge.

“Civic engagement is important to me, because that is how we get things done. This is how our voice is heard. This is how we change the world.”



Valerie Figueroa

Valerie Figueroa – University of Houston Downtown

“I believe we all should not only want to, but need to give back to our community and provide role models for those who doubt themselves. I hope to reach the root of issues within our societies and become a liaison for my peers and the education, support, and friendship needed to succeed.”


Marcelo MartinezMarcelo Martinez – Stephen F. Austin High School

“In my community, our parents encourage us to work after high school because we are expected to work and provide for our family. I think it is very important to  educate our parents about the importance of a college education. We need to continue after high school because we need professionals in the Latino community.”


Ernestina TorresErnestina Torres – Spring Woods High School

“Being a Latina means striving ten times harder than the average american citizen to succeed due to the limitations our parents have or once had. One can appreciate the difficulties family goes through that mold us to be into the person we are today.”


Jackie ReyesJackie Reyes – High School for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice

“I am now proud to be a Latina, I am not ashamed to be part Salvadoran, because it’s who I am, and to know I’m not the only one who is a Salvadoran, therefore it makes it a lot easier because then you know you’re not alone. Knowing you’re not alone, it’s easier to feel proud of your own culture.”


Arturo RodriguezArturo Rodriguez – Sharpstown International School

“I want to commit my time to raise the standard of living of others and fight inequality, socially and economically. As a community we should be united but not necessarily the same.”



Yamila RodriguezYamila Rodriguez – Spring Woods High School

“Being the one who stops bullying takes courage. Although it requires a lot of personal strength, I have vowed to myself that I will stop bullying whenever.”


Sanjuana HerreraSanjuana Herrera – Wheatley High School

“Being Latino is a great honor for me and my family. Being Latino means that your ancestors worked hard to fight for the rights that we have. Latinos have migrated and worked in the jobs that others don’t want to have, but now it’s time to change that.”


picture (5)Lesley Avalos – Cesar Chavez High School

“The issues that I am most passionate about are discrimination because of a person’s ethnicity or gender and the lack of opportunities that they are entitled to. I believe that if a person has the capability of doing something, then they should also have the opportunity to do so.”