Aurora Domínguez, a senior biology major at Texas A&M International University, strives to create a bright future for herself and her community.
Her commitment led her to apply for the 2001 National Hispana Leadership Institute (NHLI) "Latinas Learning to Lead" Summer Youth Institute. She was one of 20 young women selected to participate and immediately after finishing a prestigious summer pre-med enrichment program at University of Pennsylvania, flew to Washington, D.C. to attend a week-long training seminar.
The Latinas Learning to Lead Summer Youth Institute is designed to promote and foster the development of young Latina leaders through training, professional development, relationship building, and community and world activism.
Virginia García, director of Career Services at A&M International, said the Institute provides numerous opportunities for young Latinas like Domínguez.
"Not only do they have the opportunity to increase their leadership skills but also they will network with other Latinas committed to improving themselves and the communities around them," García said.
Domínguez decided to apply because the program encompasses beliefs she has always held dear.
" It appealed to me because it shows Latinas that we can achieve anything with enough effort and desire," she said, adding that at the seminar, she met other participants from universities such as Cornell, University of California, Berkeley, and University of Washington.
Domínguez, who plans to pursue a degree in medicine, said she was ecstatic when she first received word of her selection for the Institute.
"It came as a surprise because I knew the pool of applicants was going to be very competitive, but it was such a great opportunity that I just could not pass up applying. This conference broadened my views and allowed me to see all the doors that I can open for myself and other Hispanics," she said.
The Institute paid for airline travel, room and board and all classroom materials for participants. At the Institute, Domínguez received intensive training in educational and professional planning and said she acquired valuable leadership and employment skills. She said participants were encouraged to be an effective voice in their communities and exposed to policy issues affecting the Latino community through meetings with national Latino leaders.
Domínguez said a graduate of the Institute will serve as her mentor and that she, in turn, will be responsible for mentoring two other younger Latinas in the future.
She said she is determined to be an example of dedication and commitment to future Hispanic leaders and community and has already participated in numerous leadership activities in Laredo. Her long history of volunteering in the community includes working in hospitals, health fairs, the Laredo Children's Museum, and Habitat for Humanity.
Her leadership roles at A&M International include being vice president of the Biology Club, newly-elected president for the Environmental Protection Society, and senator from the College of Science and Technology in the Student Government Association.
In addition to community involvement, Domínguez said she believes that family is extremely significant.
"The most important values in my life I have learned were at home," she said. "My household consists of six people, with my parents and three younger brothers. I am thankful that my parents have always encouraged and supported me to further my education because unfortunately they did not have this opportunity," she said.
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