18 Jun Nahomi Jimenez
This has been edited from an LIA post written in 2015.
I am Nahomi, a proud Colombian and an activist. I had an incredible LIA teacher who once told me to “forget myself, and go to work”. This simple statement revolutionized my path and made me the person I am today. Latinos In Action came into my life at the perfect moment. Whether it was by chance, fate, or God’s will, I have been forever changed by this incredible organization. In middle school and high school I got my first taste of mental health issues after my family was struck again and again by heartbreak and sorrow. I felt numb, to the point of severe depression. I was disconnected from myself and wore a permanent smile, not letting anyone into my personal life. To everyone around me I was happy-go-lucky Nahomi. I was in an environmental group, and a lead in the school musical. Looking from the outside in, all was well. In reality, I missed a lot of school (almost a third to be exact), had low self-worth, and was going nowhere fast.
I joined LIA in order to have a class with a friend from a different grade. It seemed great: hang with friends for an hour and a half without much work involved…well, I wasn’t so lucky. Miss Peterson worked us. She held class bonding exercises for the better part of the year. She helped (forced) us to become an LIA family. It was there where I came to understand and appreciate my culture as a Latina in America. Ms. P was the person that planted a seed of leadership in me. One that I would later prosper from as I became increasingly involved. I had a better outlook on life and was becoming increasingly involved in my education and community. While LIA didn’t make my problems go away, it did teach me to “forget myself and go to work” for others. During this time I gained perspective and developed a powerful mantra, “I can do hard things”. I wasn’t going to let depression be a limiting factor, and I still don’t.
The subject of college came up often in LIA. I was exposed to LIA alumni who were at the university level, we attended college fairs and conferences as a class, and each year the LIA conference was held at a university. I found what was said very important. I knew that I had to go to college to flourish as a well-rounded individual. One thing become rather apparent early on: if I was going to attend a university then I would have to pay for it all on my own. My parents loved my initiative and would support me in reaching my goals, but as a low-income household, we simply couldn’t afford it. I had to bridge the gap between the desire of going to college and paying tuition out of pocket. I dedicated countless hours to applying for scholarships all throughout my senior year. In addition to serving as Latinos In Action President for the second year, I also served as President of the Peer Leadership Team, I was in the AP program, and I was the caregiver of my two younger sisters. Most nights I would get home from work around 10pm, do homework, apply for scholarships until 2 AM, and be up for my LDS seminary class at 5am. I won’t make it sound easy, or that I am some sort of super women. No, if anything, others should learn that if I could do it so can they. Sometimes you have to prove your worth and dedication to achieve success. I graduated from Hillcrest High School with an honors diploma, a red leadership cord provided to me by the American Red Cross, and a pin for 500+ hours of service I provided during my time in high school.
Now, I’m in my freshman year at Utah State University studying English teaching. I could not have made it this far without the overwhelming love and support from my mentor, teachers, the USU admissions team, and my incredible family. My depression will always be a part of my life but it will never be the controlling factor thanks to the lessons I learned in LIA. I am proud to be an LIA alumnus. Thank you for reading a bit about my LIA story, but please know that this is only the beginning.