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Spring 2022 Edwards Law Firm Community First Scholarship Winner

Laritza Oregon Salinas

Laritza Oregon Salinas

Our Spring 2022 scholarship winner, Laritza, aspires to become a counselor after finishing graduate school. As a child of immigrant parents, Lartiza has a deep understanding and appreciation of the struggles migrant families face both linguistically and culturally. Laritza hopes to use her bilingual capabilities to bring support and acceptance to children of these circumstances.

Read Laritza’s Essay:

I am one of four children born to immigrant parents. In the US, we are a small family compared to the family we have in Mexico. The hardest part about being separated from them is the physical isolation and the lack of support. At the tender age of seven, I was translating documents such as medical information, bills, school paperwork, and even infomercials. I filled out patient forms, sent emails to my siblings’ teachers for clarification on class projects, and proofread critical correspondence between my parents and their bosses. Like many Hispanic children, I played a crucial role in helping my parents adjust to a new way of life, and acted as a mediator between languages and cultures. When it was time to choose a career, I decided on being a Spanish interpreter and translator. While in the field, I was able to help a family navigate through the paperwork of buying their first home, attended parent-teacher conferences with eager parents, and helped a child receive the proper nutrition plan to control his diabetes.

In my encounters with migrant families, I noticed that their physical needs were being met but not the emotional ones and this was trickling into their state of well-being. There was a clear need for Spanish-speaking counselors who could understand the tensions of assimilation, leaving family, and the stresses of everyday life. Mental health is extremely important because it has a direct effect on the safety, health, and the well-being of individuals which affects the way a community can function. Personally, I have seen how depression and anxiety can hinder academic growth and many have to suffer this obstacle in silence. Mental health is a taboo in Hispanic communities and can cause intergenerational trauma that affects parents, their children, and their grandchildren. As a counselor, I will get to sit in a room and have life changing conversations with people who have never felt unconditional support and acceptance. I get to change the course of generations to come by providing emotional support to families who thought they left their values and only support in their home countries.

While I am working on my long term goal of being a counselor, I get to currently help my community through my short term goal of helping students find their purpose. I have been blessed with the opportunity to provide undergraduate students with the tools and a space to sit and think about how their passions, values, and personalities can align with a fulfilling career. I teach a career development course through Arizona State University which allows me to be a role model to the future workforce of America. It is so amazing that in my first year of grad school I get to be the support and encouragement to students who otherwise would have to navigate college, the pursuit for a fulfilling career, and skills to acquire their dream jobs on their own. As an instructor, I provide students the opportunity to ask questions and make mistakes during their undergraduate career so that when they settle on their career of choice, they can be excited and confident pilots, chemists, and nurses to keep our society functioning as best as possible.

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