Calera teen to attend leadership institute
By JESSA PEASE / Staff Writer
CALERA— One rising senior at Calera High School will be spending four days in Chicago as a part of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund’s Youth Leadership Institute Aug. 6-9.
Tamara Montes, 17, was one of 150 students chosen from a pool of 1,300 rising Hispanic seniors to attend the program designed to give young leaders the tools to successfully apply to top universities, to provide full access to scholarship and financial aid opportunities and to set a course for academic and career success.
“I just want to learn as much as possible about the college application and hope to get a lot of tools to use for college since I’m a first-generation student,” Montes said during a July 15 interview. “We kind of go crazy about college because we are trying to figure out the process ourselves. I hope to get as much as I can from it.”
Montes went through an application process and wrote essays to apply for a position in the institute. In addition to taking as many honors and AP classes as she can, Montes is the president of the band, section leader for the clarinets and uniform manager. She also participates in cross-country and track and is hoping to be team captain for in cross-country this year.
In order to balance schoolwork, athletics and the band, Montes said she worked with both her band director and cross-country coach.
“I tried to work it out with them,” Montes said. “I go to cross country, do my workout with them and then go straight to band practice.”
She participates in these extracurricular activities and in advanced courses with Duke University in mind. She said she visited the school this summer and knew it was where she wanted to be. Montes said she plans on majoring in biology and wants to become an orthodontist.
The Youth Leadership Institute will hold many seminars and bring in successful professionals to help run college and career workshops. Students will also be living on a college campus and interacting with college students and professionals who will serve as their mentors.
“It sounded like a good program and after getting confirmation from my counselors that it was, I decided it would be a good way to get experience,” Montes said.
The institute pays for everything, including airfare, boarding and food. There are four sessions in locations consisting of Chicago, Texas, California and Virginia. All attendees were handpicked.
Montes said she hopes the experience will help strengthen her application to Duke University. She is excited to start her senior year, and said she is more excited to begin her college experience.
“I’m glad that it’s finally over, but I’m also excited to start college,” Montes said. “I know that’s a huge chapter in everyone’s lives and I want to be a part of that. I just need to get my ACT score up, and, hopefully, I’ll be going to Duke.”