February 25, 2005

Sweetwater High Students Prepare for New Year in Style

Actors, media moguls, CEOs and the top political leaders in California spent the day reaching out to women from all walks of life at the 2004 California Governor’s Conference on Women and Families. And among the crowd were ten Sweetwater High School students.

The students and their chaperones made the trek to Long Beach because the confer-ence’s message is a critical one. Women—of any age and background—can indeed be “architects of change.” The 10 Sweetwater High students are involved in the school’s after-school program and are learning to be leaders both on and off campus. The conference highlighted the need for teens, especially girls, to focus on their future and prepare for it.

The Sweetwater group, comprised of juniors and seniors, heard from inspirational leaders including actress Jamie Lee Curtis, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver, television icon Oprah Winfrey and Eunice Shriver. And entertainment was provided by none other than Sheryl Crow in an inaugural “Remarkable Women Concert.”

Sweetwater High students Maria Acuna, Jessica Loeza, Erika Ramirez, Blanca Lopez, Grey Lopez, Melissa Crespo, Esther Andrade, Maricela Alvarado, Vanessa Romero and Nashely Contreras pose with their teacher, Claudia Tellez.

Maricela Alvarado, a junior at Sweetwater High, said that the conference was a great start to a new year, and a reminder that she can reach the goals that she sets for herself.

“It was inspirational to hear from icons like Oprah Winfrey,” said Alvarado. “She told the audience that God made her the way that she is so that she could help people. That’s what I want to do.”

And she’s making plans to do just that. Alvarado has charted a course to success that includes sign language interpreting—she’s already taking a course at Southwestern College to learn it—and either counseling or some role in the field of medicine.

Another Sweetwater High eleventh grader brought back to National City high hopes and aspirations from the Long Beach conference. Esther Andrade was motivated by career-oriented workshops designed for the teens in the audience. She attended a presentation by legendary make-up artist Sonia Kashuk and Wanda McDaniel, an Executive Vice-President at Giorgio Armani. And while she enjoyed learning about the fashion industry, that’s not necessarily where her future lies. She, like her friend Maricela, is thinking about a career in counseling.

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