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Dayanara Silva

1455

Bold Points

1x

Nominee

2x

Finalist

1x

Winner

Bio

I am a incoming freshman at CSUMB that will be a first in family and generation. My dream career has always been teaching art to students. I've always wanted to make teens and or kids smile through art since to me art is a way of escaping the world around you. I also created the first ever autism acceptance group at my school. This is where we build connections with those with autism and those that don't know or want to know about it. I've helped this group by getting a spot for us in a district wide board meeting. After this meeting was held many now ask to use the presentation and speeches we made at teaching programs and or at parent meetings and showing them to staff members.

Education

California State University-Monterey Bay

Bachelor's degree program
2023 - 2027

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

    Master's degree program

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

    • Fine and Studio Arts
    • Teacher Education and Professional Development, Specific Subject Areas
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Arts

    • Dream career goals:

      Art Teacher

    • I was at Bardin Elementary school on Tuesdays during the after school program as I taught them art.

      Bardin Elementary School
      2021 – 20221 year

    Sports

    Be Youself

    Club
    2019 – 20212 years

    Vocies Of The Amazing A

    Club
    2021 – 20221 year

    Arts

    • Artist Ink

      Visual Arts
      2021 – 2022

    Public services

    • Advocacy

      The Voices of the Amazing A — My role was being president of this group and creator
      2021 – 2023
    • Volunteering

      Goodwill Central Coast — Volunteer
      2021 – 2021
    • Volunteering

      Bardin Elementary School — Teacher
      2020 – 2021

    Future Interests

    Advocacy

    Volunteering

    Rev. and Mrs. E B Dunbar Scholarship
    Throughout the years I never learned how to accept myself for who I was. I saw myself as an alien with a disease known as autism. During the summer I did community service at the Reach Program. This program opened my eyes as it showed me that having autism is as normal as having a mole on your face. This program made me feel like I was at home knowing I could be myself with those just like me. Doing this program gave me the idea that those with artificial ideologies towards autism also needed to see this side of autism and not what you see in movies. Once school started again in junior year I made a group where those with autism would be able to have a safe space as they expressed their opinions on autism and how it is being seen by the world. I led that group to the district board meeting where we expressed our feelings on stereotypes towards autism. Our speech is now gaining popularity as many begged us to use our speech in parent meetings and teacher training. Senior year I became the president of this first ever autism awareness club. And many have joined as they told me that they wanted to learn more about autism because of a family member, about themselves, and even about their parents. Throughout this experience, I learned to accept the autistic side of myself. The side that helps me generate ideas for artworks and classwork. The side that makes me who I am. I created a positive circle where those like me can be themselves without shame and embarrassment hiding within the shadows. A life lesson I got from this is that we need to understand someone from within before we decide to judge them. If It wasn't for doing community service at the Reach program I wouldn't have been able to see my ability in a new light. I can finally see myself as a first-generation autistic Latina. I can finally see myself as the first in the family. I can finally see myself actually becoming an art teacher. I finally see myself as a person that sees the world differently. I strive to help others understand that autism isn't something negative. Seeing myself and people like me in a negative light is what brought me to make this autism group. I want other Latina girls to see that anyone from a low income can make it to college. And I want my fellow people on the spectrum to see that you can accomplish big dreams. As the leader of that club, I was the one that made the change. I hope to achieve the same change but with my art. I want to become an art teacher and I want students to smile when creating art. I want them to feel like art is a safe place.
    Wendy Alders Cartland Visual Arts Scholarship
    I'm a first-generation college student of color. I've lived my whole life in Salinas California. Many people in this city are a part of the migrant working communities. A community I know well as I am the child of a migrant worker. I know how hard living in under-resourced communities can be as I lived my whole life in a neglected street. My house is small. It's not even a house. It's a garage turned into a house. The bathroom sink is the only sink we have. It grows mold and gets dirty within a week. The toilet breaks down as you have to wait for the water to refill just to flush. The bathroom ceilings grow mold that eventually has to be repainted. The water from the ceiling drops on you in the morning waking you up immediately. The small table takes up the whole kitchen as we don’t have a stove, sink, or countertop. 3 dogs run around the house as it is filled with laughter and smiles even if we live in a small space. Even if I don’t have a real kitchen I still enjoy the food we make together. Even if I don’t have a real bathroom I'm still thankful for one. Even if our rooms flood during the rainy season I still have fun sleeping in one room with my family. Art is what kept me so positive. Art is what helped me see beauty in my home. It's what helped me not feel ashamed about living in the struggle. Rather through art, I've already been able to give back to others like me. Others who live in these makeshift houses. Others who understand what it's like to not have both their parents during the seasonal migration Others who see beautiful 2 story houses and wish to live there one day. I gave back to an under-resourced elementary school by teaching 3rd - 4th graders art during their after-school program. This school didn't have an art class. They were extremely low-funded as many of the children in the school spoke Spanish and came from migrant working families. However, I was committed to this elementary school and every day I would teach the children how to make different pieces of art with materials like chalk, colored pencils, rainbow scratch paper, crayons, and paint. I would walk around the classroom smiling as every single child in there looked just like me. Every single one of them had the same face of comfort and happiness through art. Every single one of them reminded me of why art is so special to me. I'm a Visual and Public Art major and I plan on becoming an art teacher. I want to continue giving back to my community by helping others like me see positivity through art. By helping others like me seek comfort through art. By helping others find their voice through art.
    WCEJ Thornton Foundation Music & Art Scholarship
    Art is powerful. It's neither a time nor a place. It is anything one wants it to be. Art doesn’t have meaning but many prefer it to have deep meaning. Art has no language. But how did my art journey start? Painting takes a lot of steps. First, we must have a reference photo. That search started in middle school. Before middle school, I was diagnosed with Asperger's. I became insecure about having autism as I would hear others around me make fun of autistic people. The fear of being called names caused me to hide myself away. I was quiet and shy. The only way I would express myself was through art. Art was my comfort, almost like therapy it helped me feel free. Although I wasn’t good at the time, I was happy. I found a way to be myself without considering what others might think of me. When I reached high school I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career. So I turned to community service. I would volunteer most of my time at John E Steinbeck's holiday events. One year during their Holiday Workshop I was stationed in the craft area for the first time. I would help children create ornaments. Every child I helped would smile. They were so happy creating these ornaments. The faces the children made looked familiar, it was the same smile I would make when I created artwork. From then on, I wanted a career where I could make others smile through art. A career where I can teach others that art can be anything. I wanted to become an art teacher. I graduated in May 2023. The search for my reference photo is over. I look at it now and it's a rough sketch of me majoring in Visual and Public Art to give back to my community. To help other roses grow from concrete. To help other roses learn to feel free from judgment.
    VNutrition & Wellness’ Annual LGBTQ+ Vitality Scholarship
    Art is powerful. It's neither a time nor a place. It is anything one wants it to be. Art doesn’t have meaning but many prefer it to have deep meaning. Art has no language. Many might think that art is wordless but expresses itself in other ways. I’m a Chicana at California State University Monterey Bay. I have lived my whole life on Cross Ave in Salinas California. A place where sidewalks are filled with cigarettes and broken glass. A place where fireworks are mistaken for gunshots. A place where floral crosses with teddy bears and photos of the deceased take dead trees. A place where gang members wait to see if you walk out with blue or red. A place where across the street a store named Quality Market resides. Its owner is known for protecting his throne. A place where a little white makeshift house lives. A house filled with two parents, one little sister, one older brother, one twin brother, and one twin sister. In one room paintings and drawings are displayed. The same room is also decorated head to toe with angels and crosses. It's my mother's and father's room. My mother has hung up every single drawing and painting I’ve done. But how did my art journey start? Painting takes a lot of steps. First, we must have a reference photo. My search for a reference photo started in middle school. Middle school was difficult for me. Before middle school, I was diagnosed with Asperger's. I became insecure about having autism as I would hear others around me make fun of autistic people. The fear of being called names caused me to hide myself away. I was quiet. I was shy. I didn’t defend myself. It wasn’t me. I held myself back. The only way I would express myself was through art. Art was my comfort, almost like therapy it helped me feel free. Although I wasn’t good at the time, I was happy. I found a way to be myself without thinking of what others might think of me. When I reached high school I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career. So I turned to community service. I would volunteer most of my time at John E Steinbeck's holiday events. One year during their Holiday Workshop I was stationed in the craft area for the first time. I would help children create ornaments. Every child I helped would smile. They were so happy creating these ornaments. The faces the children made looked familiar, it was the same smile I would make when I created artwork. From then on, I wanted a career where I could make others smile through art. A career where I can teach others how to make art with little supplies. A career where I can teach others that art can be anything. I wanted to become an art teacher. Once I reached junior year I was committed to my newly selected career. I secured a spot in Bardin Elementary School as an after-school art teacher. I was so excited. I would be teaching 3rd and 4th graders art. Every day after school I would go to my assigned classroom and watch as every child's eyes lit up with excitement. I graduated in May 2023. The search for my reference photo is over. I look at it now and it's a rough sketch of me majoring in Visual and Public Art to give back to my community. To help other roses grow from concrete. To help other roses learn to feel free from judgment.
    Terry Masters Memorial Scholarship
    Cross Avenue, Salinas California. The sidewalks are filled with cigarettes and broken glass—fireworks are mistaken for gunshots. A floral cross is placed on the ground. When you step outside your house you're being watched. Watched by gang members in their car waiting to see the color blue or red. When you walk down the street dogs bark and cars roll proudly playing Tupac Shakur Keep Ya Head Up. You look around the neighborhood as you see vibrant-colored houses made from garages and trailers. At night you can hear the white bus pick up the field workers around 3 am and drop them off in the afternoon. You see children playing on the crosswalk avoiding eye contact with the gang members patrolling this street. You reach the end of the street as you see Quality Market. The owner Mike is known for protecting his throne. I lived my whole life on this street. This street has always been the inspiration for all my art pieces. The people on this street inspire me the most as they remind me of my upbringing. I see the people on this street as roses. I see them as the "The Rose That Grew From The Concrete" the title of a poem written by Tupac Shakur. All the people living on this street grew up in the struggle. So many of the parents on this street work as migrant workers. So many of them have to leave their children around November and don't come back until April or even June depending on the rain. So many of these parents and children have the same dream. The dream of leaving the fields behind. The dream of having a better life. Cross Avenue will forever be my inspiration. I can proudly say that I'm also a rose.
    Reginald Kelley Scholarship
    Art is powerful. It's neither a time nor a place. It is anything one wants it to be. Art doesn’t have meaning but many prefer it to have deep meaning. Art has no language. Many might think that art is wordless but expresses itself in other ways. I’m a Chicana at California State University Monterey Bay. I have lived my whole life on Cross Ave in Salinas California. A place where sidewalks are filled with cigarettes and broken glass. A place where fireworks are mistaken for gunshots. A place where floral crosses with teddy bears and photos of the deceased take dead trees. A place where gang members wait to see if you walk out with blue or red. A place where across the street a store named Quality Market resides. Its owner is known for protecting his throne. A place where a little white makeshift house lives. A house filled with two parents, one little sister, one older brother, one twin brother, and one twin sister. In one room paintings and drawings are displayed. The same room is also decorated head to toe with angels and crosses. It's my mother's and father's room. My mother has hung up every single drawing and painting I’ve done. But how did my art journey start? Painting takes a lot of steps. First, we must have a reference photo. My search for a reference photo started in middle school. Middle school was difficult for me. Before middle school, I was diagnosed with Asperger's. I became insecure about having autism as I would hear others around me make fun of autistic people. The fear of being called names caused me to hide myself away. I was quiet. I was shy. I didn’t defend myself. It wasn’t me. I held myself back. The only way I would express myself was through art. Art was my comfort, almost like therapy it helped me feel free. Although I wasn’t good at the time, I was happy. I found a way to be myself without thinking of what others might think of me. When I reached high school I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career. So I turned to community service. I would volunteer most of my time at John E Steinbeck's holiday events. One year during their Holiday Workshop I was stationed in the craft area for the first time. I would help children create ornaments. Every child I helped would smile. They were so happy creating these ornaments. The faces the children made looked familiar, it was the same smile I would make when I created artwork. From then on, I wanted a career where I could make others smile through art. A career where I can teach others how to make art with little supplies. A career where I can teach others that art can be anything. I wanted to become an art teacher. Once I reached junior year I was committed to my newly selected career. I secured a spot in Bardin Elementary School as an after-school art teacher. I was so excited. I would be teaching 3rd and 4th graders art. Every day after school I would go to my assigned classroom and watch as every child's eyes lit up with excitement. I graduated in May 2023. The search for my reference photo is over. I look at it now and it's a rough sketch of me majoring in Visual and Public Art to give back to my community. To help other roses grow from concrete. To help other roses learn to feel free from judgment.
    Scholarship Institute’s Annual Women’s Leadership Scholarship
    Throughout the years I never learned how to accept myself for who I was. I saw myself as an alien with a disease known as autism. During the summer I did community service at the Reach Program. This program opened my eyes as it showed me that having autism is as normal as having a mole on your face. This program made me feel like I was at home knowing I could be myself with those just like me. Doing this program gave me the idea that those with artificial ideologies towards autism also needed to see this side of autism and not what you see in movies. Once school started again in junior year I made a group where those with autism would be able to have a safe space as they expressed their opinions on autism and how it is being seen by the world. I led that group to the district board meeting where we expressed our feelings on stereotypes towards autism. Our speech is now gaining popularity as many begged us to use our speech in parent meetings and teacher training. Senior year I became the president of this first ever autism awareness club. And many have joined as they told me that they wanted to learn more about autism because of a family member, about themselves, and even about their parents. Throughout this experience, I learned to accept the autistic side of myself. The side that helps me generate ideas for artworks and classwork. The side that makes me who I am. I created a positive circle where those like me can be themselves without shame and embarrassment hiding within the shadows. A life lesson I got from this is that we need to understand someone from within before we decide to judge them. If It wasn't for doing community service at the Reach program I wouldn't have been able to see my ability in a new light. I can finally see myself as a first-generation autistic Latina. I can finally see myself as the first in the family. I can finally see myself actually becoming an art teacher. I finally see myself as a person that sees the world differently. I strive to help others understand that autism isn't something negative. Seeing myself and people like me in a negative light is what brought me to make this autism group. I want other Latina girls to see that anyone from a low income can make it to college. And I want my fellow people on the spectrum to see that you can accomplish big dreams. As the leader of that club, I was the one that made the change. I hope to achieve the same change but with my art. I want to become an art teacher and I want students to smile when creating art. I want them to feel like art is a safe place.
    Diane Amendt Memorial Scholarship for the Arts
    Hispanic culture is very conservative. We are a culture, a family so beautiful yet so old school. This minority treats others like family yet once one shows interest in the same gender they turn an eye and accept a pedophile instead. I'm a Latina I love my culture. I grew up a proud Hispanic. Yet once I found out who I was in 4th grade I feared coming out as two spirited. As a minority, we already face such discrimination but adding being a part of the LGBTQIA+ community makes that power on the racial scale so much lower. I was in 4th grade when I realized what gender I fancied. I went to an all-white school where I didn't speak any English. I never saw myself within those around me. It caused me to shut myself in where I barely had anyone to hang out with. I slowly grew more friends over the years and one day I decided that I would tell my friends how I felt about my sexual orientation. I still remember that day as if I relive it. I was at the "popular kids" table and everyone was eating. I told everyone at that table that 'I liked girls'. I still remember the noise they made. The sighs, the disgusted faces, the chewing of gum, the 'eww', the leaving the table, the backstabbing feeling, the f slur, and the feeling of being left by all the people you trusted. Every day after that I dreaded school. Every day people I called best friends, people I brought gifts to, people I trusted with my secrets were the same people that called me the f slur. At such a young age and getting called a slur for not having the same orientation as others has such a big weight on how you feel about yourself. It's almost like being told you are worthless or meaningless every day. Eventually, you grow used to it and accept the mean remarks. Because of this I would try and skip school as much as possible. I would pretend I was sick, go to my RSP class more often, stay in a classroom at lunch, and even sometimes hide in the bathroom during class time. There was no one I could turn to. I mean my mother isn't a part of this community neither is my dad, siblings, and cousins. I was scared of telling my mom as she is a very big role model in my life. Losing her would be like losing hope and motivation. The only thing I could turn to was art. I make art about how I felt. I still remember carrying that dollar store notepad everywhere and just drawing my heart out. Art was my safe space. Soon enough I learned to smile again through art. I came out freshman year of high school as my parents accepted me. I now focus a lot of my art on my culture and the discrimination we face. Because art has taught me to smile I decided that I want to be a middle school art teacher to teach others that you should always smile.
    Trever David Clark Memorial Scholarship
    We are told how to live our life. Have a family. Have kids at 20 or 30. Have a good career. Have a straight relationship. We are told to live the basic life of a husband and a wife during the 50s. Beautiful houses and beautiful kids. Social norms are just as important as guns to patriotic Americans. But what happens if we step out of line? The imaginary audience we all fear comes out. To many minorities' religion is such a big deal. We too have enforced the ideologies of how to live a life. Hispanics, Blacks, Asians, and just all minorities have been the ones that enforce these living standards. We aren't educated on the real struggles of the LGBTQIA+ until we actually meet someone who has it. It's interesting how a person can make stereotypes without ever experiencing what it's like to be that person. I was in 4th grade when I realized what gender I fancied. I went to an all-white school where I didn't speak any English. I never saw myself within those around me. It caused me to shut myself in where I barely had anyone to hang out with. I slowly grew more friends over the years and one day I decided that I would tell my friends how I felt about my sexual orientation. I still remember that day as if I relive it. I was at the "popular kids" table and everyone was eating. I told everyone at that table that "I liked girls". I still remember the noise they made. The sighs, the disgusted faces, the chewing of gum, the 'eww', the leaving the table, the backstabbing feeling, the f slur, and the feeling of being left by all the people you trusted. Every day after that I dreaded school. Every day people I called best friends, people I brought gifts to, people I trusted with my secrets were the same people that called me the f slur. At such a young age and getting called a slur for not having the same orientation as others has such a big weight on how you feel about yourself. It's almost like being told you are worthless or meaningless every day. Eventually, you grow used to it and accept the mean remarks. Because of this I would try and skip school as much as possible. I would pretend I was sick, go to my RSP class more often, stay in a classroom at lunch, and even sometimes hide in the bathroom during class time. There was no one I could turn to. I mean my mother isn't a part of this community neither is my father, siblings, and cousins. I was scared of telling my mom as she is very big on religion. Not to mention gays in the Hispanic community are mostly known as pedophiles. So I stayed quiet and never talked. I became quiet. I use to be so bubbly and filled with so much energy. I still remember the number of times I would just stand and just blank out dreaming of when I was popular. Of when I wasn't in a shell. I grew so much hatred for myself that my only way out was paper and colored pencils. Because I was scared about telling others how I felt I used art to express myself. My art wasn't good at first but it was almost like therapy. I practiced every day and I became better by the month. I found confidence in myself again through art as I finally found peace in myself and came out.
    Book Lovers Scholarship
    We've all heard of the book Forrest Gump and its famous movie adaptation. When we hear about the story of Forrest Gump many either don't know what it is or just see it as a stupid guy with some kind of Autism. I would recommend both the book and the movie adaptation as it has so many hidden messages about life and how you should perceive it. Throughout the book, we learn that at the time there were many historical events such as the civil rights movement, political struggles, political activism, the war in Vietnam, and Little Rock Nine. However, the book doesn't focus on these events but rather these events are side characters. And to Forrest, they don't mean anything to him. Although he is oblivious to the political struggles he simply focuses on those he truly cares about. As this shows how important it is to focus on your individual self and help those close to you rather than focusing so much on the world and its national problem. Change Your own situation before you decide to change the world is truly what Forrest represents through his lack of ego and more so overload of innocence. My favorite saying/lesson Forrest teaches is “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get.” This is an important lesson to teach. Life has different pathways for everyone. Some people might have a tough life while some might have an easy life. Some are brought into poverty while some are brought into wealth. We can let those challenges consume us or we can let them give us strength.
    Community Reinvestment Grant: Pride Scholarship
    We don't represent autism in the correct way. We see autism as being in straight white males rather we don't see them in LGBTQ+ voices or in females. And if we do see a female representing an ability they are often representing Down Syndrome. We don't see these people taking action in their community either. often times we see them in sped classes while we see normal people voicing problems. Because of this I never learned how to accept myself for who I was. I saw myself as an alien with a disease known as autism. During the summer I did community service at the Reach Program. This program opened my eyes as it showed me that having autism is as normal as having a mole on your face. This program made me feel like I was at home knowing I could be myself with those just like me. Doing this program gave me the idea that those with artificial ideologies towards autism also needed to see this side of autism and not what you see in movies. Once school started again in junior year I made a group where those with autism would be able to have a safe space as they expressed their opinions on autism and how it is being seen by the world. I led that group to the district board meeting where we expressed our feelings on stereotypes towards autism. Our speech is now gaining popularity as many begged us to use our speech in parent meetings and teacher training. This senior year I became the president of this first-ever autism awareness club. And many have joined as they told me that they wanted to learn more about autism because of a family member, about themselves, and even about their parents. Throughout this experience, I learned to accept the autistic side of myself. The side that helps me generate ideas for artworks and classwork. The side that makes me who I am. I created a positive circle where those like me can be themselves without shame and embarrassment hiding within the shadows. A life lesson I got from this is that we need to understand someone from within before we decide to judge them. This has actually helped me in my classes as I’ve become more open-minded with my classmates' ideas. I will continue to use this in the future as a way to have an open and positive mindset.
    Community Pride Scholarship
    Throughout the years I never learned how to accept myself for who I was. I saw myself as an alien with a disease known as autism. During the summer I did community service at the Reach Program. This program opened my eyes as it showed me that having autism is as normal as having a mole on your face. This program made me feel like I was at home knowing I could be myself with those just like me. Doing this program gave me the idea that those with artificial ideologies towards autism also needed to see this side of autism and not what you see in movies. Once school started again in junior year I made a group where those with autism would be able to have a safe space as they expressed their opinions on autism and how it is being seen by the world. I led that group to the district board meeting where we expressed our feelings on stereotypes towards autism. Our speech is now gaining popularity as many begged us to use our speech in parent meetings and teacher training. This senior year I became the president of this first-ever autism awareness club. And many have joined as they told me that they wanted to learn more about autism because of a family member, about themselves, and even about their parents. Throughout this experience, I learned to accept the autistic side of myself. The side that helps me generate ideas for artworks and classwork. The side that makes me who I am. I created a positive circle where those like me can be themselves without shame and embarrassment hiding within the shadows. Stepping out of line when it comes to sexuality, especially in Hispanic culture is a big deal. Many minority groups aren’t as accepting when it comes to sexual orientation as we aren’t educated about the struggles in the LGBTQIA+ community. I had the realization of what gender I fancied more in elementary school. Because of this I never accepted that side of myself, as I hid it for fear of being made fun of. My safety net was my art teacher in elementary school. She was positive every day and would smile even when students were behaving badly. Her positive energy made me smile more. She made me laugh more and opened up to others. This is my personal connection with my career choice as this has made me more positive and more open-minded as a person. Because of this, I set myself to go to college not only to break a change of no college graduates but to make the same impact she did by spreading my love by becoming an art teacher.
    Adam Montes Pride Scholarship
    Throughout the years I never learned how to accept myself for who I was. I saw myself as an alien with a disease known as autism. During the summer I did community service at the Reach Program. This program opened my eyes as it showed me that having autism is as normal as having a mole on your face. This program made me feel like I was at home knowing I could be myself with those just like me. Doing this program gave me the idea that those with artificial ideologies towards autism also needed to see this side of autism and not what you see in movies. Once school started again in junior year I made a group where those with autism would be able to have a safe space as they expressed their opinions on autism and how it is being seen by the world. I led that group to the district board meeting where we expressed our feelings on stereotypes towards autism. Our speech is now gaining popularity as many begged us to use our speech in parent meetings and teacher training. This senior year I became the president of this first-ever autism awareness club. And many have joined as they told me that they wanted to learn more about autism because of a family member, about themselves, and even about their parents. Throughout this experience, I learned to accept the autistic side of myself. The side that helps me generate ideas for artworks and classwork. The side that makes me who I am. I created a positive circle where those like me can be themselves without shame and embarrassment hiding within the shadows. I decided to add this as I made a big impact in my community. I helped others like me feel welcome to be themselves without the fear of being treated differently. If I had the money and resources I would love to make this club into a real place where people like me can know that they have a safe space. This would be a place where parents can seek help. This would be a place where people don't have to feel ashamed about being autistic. This would be the place I dreamed of. We like to think that those with autism don't have feelings however, we do. We feel everything one says. And being told names for something you were born with is such a degradation. And I want those like me to feel welcomed into a positive space.
    Novitas Diverse Voices Scholarship
    I believe that diverse voices can make a big impact on public narratives. I go to an all-Hispanic school where many have or aren't diagnosed with autism. I myself have a form of autism and we see more autistic individuals through the eyes of the whites. We don't see autism representation in people like us and when we do it is downright stereotypical. And because of this, I shut autism away. I never saw myself anywhere. Hispanics aren't shown in the media we are basically a forgotten race. Not being able to see a correct representation of my culture and my ability caused me to hate my autism and conform to being normal. However, during the summer I did community service at the Reach Program. This program opened my eyes as it showed me that having autism is as normal as having a mole on your face. This program made me feel like I was at home knowing I could be myself with those just like me. Doing this program gave me the idea that those with artificial ideologies towards autism also needed to see this side of autism and not what you see in movies. Once school started again in junior year I made a group where those with autism would be able to have a safe space as they expressed their opinions on autism and how it is being seen by the world. I led that group to the district board meeting where we expressed our feelings on stereotypes towards autism. Our speech is now gaining popularity as many begged us to use our speech in parent meetings and teacher training. This senior year I became the president of this first-ever autism awareness club. And many have joined as they told me that they wanted to learn more about autism because of a family member, about themselves, and even about their parents. Throughout this experience, I learned to accept the autistic side of myself. The side that helps me generate ideas for artworks and classwork. The side that makes me who I am. I created a positive circle where those like me can be themselves without shame and embarrassment hiding within the shadows. So if you ask me "What impact do you believe the power of diverse voices in public relations can have on shaping public narratives?" I am going to say that diverse voices can make a big impact. We have experiences not many understand yet so many relate. We are the strongest voices it's all about the willpower to do something.
    Joieful Connections Scholarship
    In Hispanic households, it can be very hard and scary to express what gender you fancie. As we don’t expect our son or daughter to come out at the age of 7. I was in elementary school when I realized who I really am. I couldn’t turn to any of my siblings or parents as they never experience what it's like to realize you have a different sexual orientation than other people. The only thing I could turn to was colored pencils and paper. Although I could have used a poem template or flyers to express myself I find it hard to express what I really feel through anything else as art is what I used throughout my life to accept myself, find who I am, and gain new perspectives. Being able to express who I am through art is important to me as I felt trapped when I was first finding myself and when I found art it helped me gain my confidence back. I’ve used this experience to come up with different ideas on how to educate others about autism for an autism acceptance group I created. I will continue to use this as a way to think outside of the box for school, art, and for life. I will be the first generation and the first in my family with autism to attend a 4-year college. I am stating this as a way to show you that those with different abilities can take on challenges head-on. I plan to major in art and education as I want to be an Art teacher. I hope to be able to expand my creativity and art while in higher education. I want to meet new people while pursuing higher education. I also want to make an impact/change in college. I joined the first-ever autism awareness group in my high school and I led that group to the district board meeting where we expressed our feelings on stereotypes towards autism. Our speech is now gaining popularity as many begged us to use our speech in parent meetings and teacher training. This senior year I became the president of this first-ever autism awareness club. And many have joined as they told me that they wanted to learn more about autism because of a family member, about themselves, and even about their parents. Throughout this experience, I learned to accept the autistic side of myself. I want to make that same impact in college showing others what autism really is.
    Isaac Yunhu Lee Memorial Arts Scholarship
    Hispanics/Mexicans are represented in the wrong light. We are seen in movies as gang members. We are seen in shows as overweight. We are seen as only eating tacos. We are seen as a culture that steals jobs from those in need. We are seen in the eyes of whites as aliens that rape their women and are out for blood. We are seen as coming on land that wasn't ours in the first place. We face such discrimination every day. But we do all the work. We work jobs that tire us. We work jobs that help the agricultural business grow. We work jobs that make us leave mid-year to work in Yuma Arizona. We work jobs that cause us to miss special days. If we weren't here to take up this hard job not many would fill up our shoes. Many preach about how we steal their jobs however, they would never step foot into the bone-crushing jobs we do every day. They would never spend days in the hot sun and in coolers. They would never leave their family every year missing Christmas, thanksgiving, valentines Day, and News Years Eve. We are a minority that is forgotten and is never represented correctly on the big screen. Once COVID-19 everyone went crazy. We thought the world was going to end. I remember sitting outside waiting for delivery with my older brother and the street that use to be filled with cars bumping music, groups of teens talking, Spanish music, and parties was now as silent as the streets in the white areas. I remember my father and all the other field workers heading to work with no protection. Thin mask. No gloves. Layering clothes. They all started to drop like flies. The pandemic was killing everyone as fast as the flu. Many hospital workers were dropping left and right. Many first responders were risking their lives helping those infected with the virus. Wait? Nurses and first responders something is not right. Nurses and first responders... Nurses and first responders... where are the field workers? We called nurses and first responders true Americans for risking their lives to help those in need during the pandemic but we left out a big group of people that risked their lives to provide us with fresh produce. Every day we heard about nurses and first responders being the true heroes in the pandemic yet we don't open our eyes to those that have truly been with us through the thick and thin. Field workers risked their lives every day. We didn't have protection and many of us weren't educated on how the vaccine could help. We worked every day living up to that American dream yet many of us would get sick causing a lot of the field workers to lose days of work. We were a part of that fight during COVID-19. We risked our lives and others around us. Yet we didn't get any recognition on the news. Yet we faced discrimination during the pandemic people called us dirty, people told us we had germs, and people feared getting sick by being near us. I created this artwork because my father got sick with the virus causing us to eat cereal and cup of noodles for a month. He was in the front lines during the pandemic like every other field worker and once he was caught with the virus it created a big financial problem. All of the field workers were in the front lines during the pandemic and they still are now. They are the True American Heroes.
    Will Johnson Scholarship
    Throughout the years I never learned how to accept myself for who I was. I saw myself as an alien with a disease known as autism. During the summer I did community service at the Reach Program. This program opened my eyes as it showed me that having autism is as normal as having a mole on your face. This program made me feel like I was at home knowing I could be myself with those just like me. Doing this program gave me the idea that those with artificial ideologies towards autism also needed to see this side of autism and not what you see in movies. Once school started again in junior year I made a group where those with autism would be able to have a safe space as they expressed their opinions on autism and how it is being seen by the world. I led that group to the district board meeting where we expressed our feelings on stereotypes towards autism. Our speech is now gaining popularity as many begged us to use our speech in parent meetings and teacher training. This senior year I became the president of this first-ever autism awareness club. And many have joined as they told me that they wanted to learn more about autism because of a family member, about themselves, and even about their parents. Throughout this experience, I learned to accept the autistic side of myself. The side that helps me generate ideas for artworks and classwork. The side that makes me who I am. I created a positive circle where those like me can be themselves without shame and embarrassment hiding within the shadows. A life lesson I got from this is that we need to understand someone from within before we decide to judge them. This has actually helped me in my classes as I’ve become more open-minded with my classmates' ideas. I will continue to use this in the future as a way to have an open and positive mindset. Because of this group, I created I can finally say I will be a first generation and first in my family with autism to attend a 4-year college to become an Art Teacher. I am stating this as a way to show you that those with different abilities can take on challenges head-on. That we are capable of doing things other “normal” people can do. And being able to hold such a title is an honor to me.
    Voila Natural Lifestyle Scholarship
    In Hispanic households, it can be very hard and scary to express what gender you fancie. As we don’t expect our son or daughter to come out at the age of 7. I was in elementary school when I realized who I really am. I couldn’t turn to any of my siblings or parents as they never experience what it's like to realize you have a different sexual orientation than other people. The only thing I could turn to was colored pencils and paper. Although I could have used a poem template or flyers to express myself I find it hard to express what I really feel through anything else as art is what I used throughout my lifetime to accept myself, to find who I am, and gain new perspectives. Being able to express who I am through art is important to me as I felt trapped when I was first finding myself and when I found art it helped me gain my confidence back. I’ve used this experience to come up with different ideas on how to educate others about autism for an autism acceptance group I created. I will continue to use this as a way to think outside of the box for school, art, and for life. Going to college will help me get steps closer to my dream career. I will be a first generation and first in my family with autism to attend a 4 year college. I am stating this as a way to show you that those with different abilities can take on challenges head on. That we are capable of doing things other “normal” people can do. And being able to hold such a title is an honor to me.Throughout the years I never learned how to accept myself for who I was. I saw myself as an alien with a disease known as autism. During the summer I did community service at the Reach Program. This program opened my eyes as it showed me that having autism is as normal as having a mole on your face. This program made me feel like I was at home knowing I could be myself with those just like me. Doing this program gave me the idea that those with artificial ideologies towards autism also needed to see this side of autism and not what you see in movies. Once school started again in junior year I made a group where those with autism would be able to have a safe space as they expressed their opinions on autism and how it is being seen by the world. I led that group to the district board meeting where we expressed our feelings on stereotypes towards autism. Our speech is now gaining popularity as many begged us to use our speech in parent meetings and teacher training. This senior year I became the president of this first ever autism awareness club. And many have joined as they told me that they wanted to learn more about autism because of a family member, about themselves, and even about their parents. Throughout this experience, I learned to accept the autistic side of myself. The side that helps me generate ideas for artworks and classwork. The side that makes me who I am. I created a positive circle where those like me can be themselves without shame and embarrassment hiding within the shadows. A life lesson I got from this is that we need to understand someone from within before we decide to judge them.
    GRAFFITI ARTS SCHOLARSHIP
    In Hispanic households, it can be very hard and scary to express what gender you fancie. As we don’t expect our son or daughter to come out at the age of 7. I was in elementary school when I realized who I really am. I couldn’t turn to any of my siblings or parents as they never experience what it's like to realize you have a different sexual orientation than other people. The only thing I could turn to was colored pencils and paper. Although I could have used a poem template or flyers to express myself I find it hard to express what I really feel through anything else as art is what I used throughout my lifetime to accept myself, to find who I am, and gain new perspectives. Being able to express who I am through art is important to me as I felt trapped when I was first finding myself and when I found art it helped me gain my confidence back. I’ve used this experience to come up with different ideas on how to educate others about autism for an autism acceptance group I created. I will continue to use this as a way to think outside of the box for school, art, and for life. Going to college will help me get steps closer to my dream career. I will be a first generation and first in my family with autism to attend a 4 year college. I am stating this as a way to show you that those with different abilities can take on challenges head on. That we are capable of doing things other “normal” people can do. And being able to hold such a title is an honor to me.Throughout the years I never learned how to accept myself for who I was. I saw myself as an alien with a disease known as autism. During the summer I did community service at the Reach Program. This program opened my eyes as it showed me that having autism is as normal as having a mole on your face. This program made me feel like I was at home knowing I could be myself with those just like me. Doing this program gave me the idea that those with artificial ideologies towards autism also needed to see this side of autism and not what you see in movies. Once school started again in junior year I made a group where those with autism would be able to have a safe space as they expressed their opinions on autism and how it is being seen by the world. I led that group to the district board meeting where we expressed our feelings on stereotypes towards autism. Our speech is now gaining popularity as many begged us to use our speech in parent meetings and teacher training. This senior year I became the president of this first ever autism awareness club. And many have joined as they told me that they wanted to learn more about autism because of a family member, about themselves, and even about their parents. Throughout this experience, I learned to accept the autistic side of myself. The side that helps me generate ideas for artworks and classwork. The side that makes me who I am. I created a positive circle where those like me can be themselves without shame and embarrassment hiding within the shadows. A life lesson I got from this is that we need to understand someone from within before we decide to judge them.
    Richard Neumann Scholarship
    Throughout the years I never learned how to accept myself for who I was. I saw myself as an alien with a disease known as autism. During the summer I did community service at the Reach Program. This program opened my eyes as it showed me that having autism is as normal as having a mole on your face. This program made me feel like I was at home knowing I could be myself with those just like me. Doing this program gave me the idea that those with artificial ideologies towards autism also needed to see this side of autism and not what you see in movies. Once school started again in junior year I made a group where those with autism would be able to have a safe space as they expressed their opinions on autism and how it is being seen by the world. I led that group to the district board meeting where we expressed our feelings on stereotypes towards autism. Our speech is now gaining popularity as many begged us to use our speech in parent meetings and teacher training. This senior year I became the president of this first-ever autism awareness club. And many have joined as they told me that they wanted to learn more about autism because of a family member, about themselves, and even about their parents. Throughout this experience, I learned to accept the autistic side of myself. The side that helps me generate ideas for artworks and classwork. The side that makes me who I am. I created a positive circle where those like me can be themselves without shame and embarrassment hiding within the shadows. A life lesson I got from this is that we need to understand someone from within before we decide to judge them. This has actually helped me in my classes as I’ve become more open-minded with my classmates' ideas. I will continue to use this in the future as a way to have an open and positive mindset. If I had the money and resources I would want to make this group into a real organization. An organization where there will be information about autism for students, family members, and teachers. An organization where those with autism can have a safe space. An organization where we can educate others. An organization where we can hold events where those with autism can feel welcomed and where people can see that autism isn't a disease rather it is a new way of thinking and looking at the world.
    Jorge A. Quizhpi Memorial Scholarship
    Lo vemos todos los días. Los ricos se vuelven más ricos mientras que los pobres se vuelven más pobres. Miro a una persona que entendió muy bien este tema. Martin Luther King, Jr. La Campaña de los Pobres, también llamada Marcha de los Pobres, se llevó a cabo en Washington, D.C., en 1968, en la que participaron afroamericanos, nativos americanos e hispanos, todos se unieron para exigir mejores salarios, mejores viviendas, y mejor manera de vivir. Este fue un evento histórico. No solo porque la gente decidió tomar medidas para exigir la necesidad de aumentar los salarios y hacer que la vivienda sea asequible, sino también porque esto demuestra que las minorías podemos unirnos. Podemos hacer una diferencia. El hecho de que estemos en el extremo inferior de la escala racial no significa que podamos escondernos y aceptar nuestro destino. Muchas veces esto sucede. Especialmente en la cultura hispana. Nos escondemos en las sombras sin defender lo que es correcto. No estamos educados como otros en el extremo superior de la escala. Quiero decir que escondemos el autismo debajo de la cama en el mismo lugar donde lo han estado durante años los trastornos, la atención médica, la salud mental y la sexualidad. Juntos nuestras voces se escuchan. Me refiero a mirar a César Chávez. Pudo llevar a la gente a exigir mejores salarios para los trabajadores del campo. Todos los días vivimos una vida de pobreza. Muchos trabajadores de campo migran a Yuma cada año para dejar atrás a sus familias porque necesitan vivir. Se van porque necesitan proveedores. Los hombres o las mujeres necesitan dar cobijo y alimento a sus seres queridos. Extrañan tantos recuerdos que podrían estar haciendo con sus familias y seguir siendo una persona de bajos ingresos. Trabajamos en el trabajo más duro posible. Algunos de nosotros tenemos la suerte de tener padres que tienen una educación. Mientras que muchos en el lado este de California luchan por comer quesadillas y tazas de fideos y viven de las compañías de comida rápida. Los blancos dicen todos los días que les estamos quitando el trabajo, pero nunca sudarían tanto como nosotros. Nunca trabajarían en los campos. Nunca perderían un día festivo para trabajar bajo el sol de Yuma Arizona. Nunca tienen que acudir en masa a un nuevo estado solo por trabajo. No conocen la pobreza. No conocen la lucha. No conocen la tensión de no poder trabajar en los campos debido a las inundaciones. Los más ricos predican sobre la eliminación de estos "ladrones de trabajo" cuando en realidad ninguno de ellos trabajaría en estos trabajos. Nosotros, como cultura, no defendemos lo que es correcto. No buscamos ayuda de otras culturas como lo hizo Martin Luther King Jr. No nos abrimos a estos temas. Somos tan conservadores como la raza blanca. Elegí hablar sobre este evento para mostrar que una voz se puede escuchar en los números. Podemos contar nuestras historias si tomamos medidas.
    Lori Nethaway Memorial Scholarship
    Stepping out of line when it comes to sexuality especially in Hispanic culture is a big deal. Many minority groups aren’t as accepting when it comes to sexual orientation as we aren’t educated about the struggles in the LGBTQIA+ community. I had the realization of what gender I fancied more in elementary school. Because of this I never accepted that side of myself, as I hid it for fear of being made fun of. My safety net was my art teacher in elementary school. She was positive everyday and would smile even when students were behaving badly. Her positive energy made me smile more. She made me laugh more and opened up to others. This is my personal connection with my career choice as this has made me more positive and more open minded as a person. Because of this I set myself to go to college not only to break a change of no college graduates but to make the same impact she did by spreading my love by becoming an art teacher. I want to show my other Latina's in my community that college can be a goal. I want to give everyone I teach to smile everyday with art.
    TBC Academic Scholarship
    Winner
    Throughout the years I never learned how to accept myself for who I was. I saw myself as an alien with a disease known as autism. During the summer I did community service at the Reach Program. This program opened my eyes as it showed me that having autism is as normal as having a mole on your face. This program made me feel like I was at home knowing I could be myself with those just like me. Doing this program gave me the idea that those with artificial ideologies towards autism also needed to see this side of autism and not what you see in movies. Once school started again in junior year I made a group where those with autism would be able to have a safe space as they expressed their opinions on autism and how it is being seen by the world. I led that group to the district board meeting where we expressed our feelings on stereotypes towards autism. Our speech is now gaining popularity as many begged us to use our speech in parent meetings and teacher training. This senior year I became the president of this first ever autism awareness club. And many have joined as they told me that they wanted to learn more about autism because of a family member, about themselves, and even about their parents. Throughout this experience, I learned to accept the autistic side of myself. The side that helps me generate ideas for artworks and classwork. The side that makes me who I am. I created a positive circle where those like me can be themselves without shame and embarrassment hiding within the shadows. That is what I believe the phrase 'pay it forward' means. I helped my community. I helped those like me with autism. I helped them by giving them a voice and a space to be themselves. A space I wished I had. A life lesson I got from this is that we need to understand someone from within before we decide to judge them. This has actually helped me in my classes as I’ve become more open minded with my classmates' ideas. I will continue to use this in future as a way to have an open and positive mindset. I can finally say that I gave back to a community so close to me. I can finally live with the fact that I accept myself for who I am.
    Elijah's Helping Hand Scholarship Award
    Hispanic culture is very conservative. We are a culture, a family so beautiful yet so old school. This minority treats others like family yet once one shows interest in the same gender they turn an eye and accept a pedophile instead. I'm a Latina I love my culture. I grew up a proud Hispanic. Yet once I found out who I was in 4th grade I feared coming out as two spirited. As a minority we already face such discrimination but adding being apart of the LGBTQIA+ community makes that power on the racial scale so much lower. I was in 4th grade when I realized what gender I fancied. I went to an all white school where I didn't speak any English. I never saw myself within those around me. It caused me to shut myself in where I barely had anyone to hang out with. I slowly grew more friends over the years and one day I decided that I would tell my friends how I felt about my sexual orientation. I still remember that day as if I relive it. I was at the "popular kids" table and everyone was eating. I told everyone on that table that 'I liked girls'. I still remember the noise they made. The sighs, the disgusted faces, the chewing of gum, the 'eww', the leaving of the table, the backstabbing feeling, the f slur, and the feeling of being left by all the people you trusted. Everyday after that I dreaded school. Everyday people I called best friends, people I brought gifts to, people I trusted with my secrets were the same people that called me the f slur. At such a young age and getting called a slur for not having the same orientation as others has such a big weight on how you feel about yourself. Its almost like being told you are worthless or meaningless everyday. Eventually you grow use to it and accept the mean remarks. Because of this I would try and skip school as much as possible. I would pretend I was sick, go to my RSP class more often, stay in a classroom at lunch, and even sometimes hide in the bathroom during class time. There was no one I could turn too. I mean my mother isn't apart of this community neither is my dad, siblings, and cousins. I was scared of telling my mom as she is very big on religion. Not to mention gays in the Hispanic community are mostly known as pedophiles. So I stayed quiet and never talked. Because of this constant bullying I learned to hid in a shell. I wasn't as outgoing as before, I wasn't talking anymore, I never spoke up for myself, I wasn't eating, I was basically an emotional less person that grew hatred for who they really were. The only thing I could turn to was colored pencils and paper. Although I could have used a poem template or flyers to express myself I find it hard to express what I really feel through anything else as art is what I used throughout my lifetime to accept myself, to find who I am, and to gain new perspectives. I slowly was able to accept who I was as a person in Freshman year of high school. I later came out to my family and slowly gained the ability to love who I was as a person without fear of expressing myself.
    Margalie Jean-Baptiste Scholarship
    Throughout the years I never learned how to accept myself for who I was. I saw myself as an alien with a disease known as autism. During the summer I did community service at the Reach Program. This program opened my eyes as it showed me that having autism is as normal as having a mole on your face. This program made me feel like I was at home knowing I could be myself with those just like me. Doing this program gave me the idea that those with artificial ideologies towards autism also needed to see this side of autism and not what you see in movies. Once school started again in junior year I made a group where those with autism would be able to have a safe space as they expressed their opinions on autism and how it is being seen by the world. I led that group to the district board meeting where we expressed our feelings on stereotypes towards autism. Our speech is now gaining popularity as many begged us to use our speech in parent meetings and teacher training. This senior year I became the president of this first ever autism awareness club. And many have joined as they told me that they wanted to learn more about autism because of a family member, about themselves, and even about their parents. Throughout this experience, I learned to accept the autistic side of myself. The side that helps me generate ideas for artworks and classwork. The side that makes me who I am. I created a positive circle where those like me can be themselves without shame and embarrassment hiding within the shadows. A life lesson I got from this is that we need to understand someone from within before we decide to judge them. If It wasn't for doing community service at the reach program I wouldn't haven been able to see my ability in a new light. I can finally see myself as a first generation autistic Latina. I can finally see myself as first in family. I can finally see myself actually becoming an art teacher. I finally see myself a person that sees the world differently. I strive to help others understand that autism isn't something negative. Seeing myself and people like me in a negative light is what brought me to make this autism group. I want other Latina girls to see that anyone from a low income can make it to college. And I want my fellow people on the spectrum to see that you can accomplish big dreams.
    Doan Foundation Arts Scholarship
    Being in a Hispanic household there isn't many things to do a career goal. Hispanics are represented in many jobs. We aren't seen in movies, we aren't seen in big company's, and we certainly don't get the 7 figure pay. So we someone steps out of the field worker line it is very much stressful. Not only do you have so much weight on having to go with this career for life but you are also setting up the future for those behind you. My parents have always been supportive of me. My mom has always hung up my work by her bed and my dad would stare at it for hours. I started drawing when I was 4 they weren't the best things in the world. But once I started practicing and doing more I was able to impress people. Did I mention I am a Latina that wants to pursue teaching and art but is also part of the lgbtqia+ community and is autistic. I usually like to leave that information out as being about of this community and also having such a shameful ability is what made me drift away from art when I was in 4th grade. I transferred to a all white school that preached about acceptance but they never taught their students how to accept. I learned to stay by the shadows. I learned that it is better to be in the dark than to burst out rainbow colors yelling how proud I am to be about of the Mexican culture. I volunteered at a arts and craft workshop. And from seeing kids as young as 5 laughing with me as they made such simple art made me get my groove back. I started volunteering more. I made art again. I stood out from my classmates by showing my heritage/artwork. And from this experience forward I just how important positive impact really is. My sister sees me as a inspiration as she wants to act. My twin brother wants to be a full time artist. Just one smile and one story can change a life. From that day forward I told myself that I would become an art teacher to make a little me smile once more.
    Ethel Hayes Destigmatization of Mental Health Scholarship
    Every day people shout out hurtful words. Some people shout it out for fun. When I was 2 years old I was taken to Stanford hospital to get tested. What did I get tested on? I was tested for autism. And when I came out of the hospital I was a new person. Although I didn't know it my life was about to change. I was transferred to another school in 4th grade because my twin brother didn't have resources to help him learn since he too had autism. I was pretty excited. Like most kids, I wondered what they would be like. I wondered if they liked playing with Monster High dolls as I did. Once I was dropped off at this new school I was first sent off to meet the RSP teacher, Speech teachers, and Special Education teachers. And everything was fine. I felt normal. Did I feel normal? Did I really? My mom was very open about my autism so when I turned 8 she told me about my autism. So I would tell everyone about my autism hoping they would be as open as her. But I soon started to notice people leaving me. Some people would even go so far as to whisper to each other once I sat down. I felt ashamed of myself. I didn't want to be this retard everyone hated. So I changed everything about myself. I told everyone that I didn't have autism and was lying for attention. I became a new person. I became someone that didn't come to terms that she was different. I became someone that she knew wasn't right. I became someone who bullies their own kind because they didn't want to be the target anymore. I became someone that I hated. Someone that no one should be proud of. One thing leads to another and I found myself crushing on this girl in my 5th-grade class. This school was an all-white school. And I'm pretty sure they weren't too fond of LGBTQ+ students. So while I was dreaming of building a family and having kids with a girl in my class I was asked a question. A very personal one at that. I was sitting at the popular kid's lunch table. I finally made it to that table! After all the self-hate and constantly putting down others. I was finally sitting at that table. However, that dream didn't last for long. I was asked a personal question. I was asked, "Daya I know this may come as a shock but I was wondering...do you like girls?" I felt my stomach turn in so many directions. I didn't know what to do. And out of nowhere my mouth spoke before I could think "Yes." Right there and then I found out that everyone there was fake. Once I told them that I did in fact like girls they all started to leave the table. I could feel the weight of the table being lifted up. People left. Some people looked at me as they left right after. And this one girl that I called my "BFF" looked at me as she called me the f slur. Right after that lunch fiasco, I wasn't welcomed into their group anymore. My mental state lowered by the second. I was by myself all the time. Sometimes I would escape to my RSP teacher's room so that I could have peace and quiet. One day I was home alone. I was eating lunch when I felt something in me. I started to cry because I had nothing. I was a loner in class that was outed by some popular kids not to mention people still remembered that I had autism so many would use that as an insult. So I took matters into my own hands. I would pinch myself whenever I felt sad. I would break a pencil and cut myself with the broken pencil. I didn't pay attention to school anymore. Frankly, I didn't even care anymore. I went to school and this new girl came from Monterrey. She would follow me around. And I actually found out that she had autism as well. We became best friends. I started to finally pay attention in school. I had a friend that supported me. We understood each other more than anyone else would. Time skip to now. I came out in 2019 to my mom. Which was great. I started to accept myself. I even joined a group of other autistic students that could care less about what others tell them. I found resonance with myself. If you ever came up to me then you would have never thought that this all happened to me. You wouldn't even know that I was depressed during elementary school. My friend once told me that I am like "a unicorn I never get mad or sad." To many, I'm the Elmo, Kermit, or even a unicorn. I was able to improve my mental health drastically by simply having someone to support me. Now that this nightmare was over. I finally started to want a college education. High school requires community service. So when my mental health was a little better I did community service with kids. And after that, I wanted to work with kids. However, I didn't know what I wanted to do. During my depression stage, I drew. That was the only thing keeping me going. I drew every day. I soon realized that I wanted to be an Art Teacher. I don't know what grade yet but I know that I want to make kids or teens smile when doing art because art is what kept away from death's doorstep.