The student representative on the San Diego County Board of Education in July was Esther, a senior at Lindsay Community School.
Esther was recognized by principal Theresa Fox and the staff at Lindsay for her leadership and desire to change conditions in her community. The senior recently led a series of human rights trainings in her neighborhood that taught people how to deal with police and immigration officials.
"This experience taught me a lot about the system, but it also showed me that when we get together and organize, we can make changes in our community and make our voices heard," Esther said.
Esther is a leader in her community and at Lindsay, displaying enormous determination in pursuing her future education and life goals.
She is enrolled at Palomar College and will be studying auto mechanics and social work. Two divergent areas, but areas in which assistance is needed in her community, she says. Esther is aware of the inequities of the world. She and her peers have experienced a lot of trauma and struggles, and very few people have the tools to help them overcome and succeed.
"I have a lot to offer in this area," she said.
And she encourages other Lindsay students to continue pursuing their education to help change the negative perception of young mothers.
"We are extremely strong and resilient, and we are the backbone of the community! We have to rise for our children, our families, each other, and our communities," she said. "Get together with other young women who are pushing forward, motivate and support each other, and encourage each other to do our best, always."
Esther is grateful to the Lindsay community for the support, noting that the school provides many with the family they never had.
"When I first came to Lindsay, I didn't understand how strong I was, but Lindsay has reminded me that I am somebody," she said. "No one will get in my way of success and I will never accept anything less."
Each month, the County Board of Education recognizes a student from the San Diego County Office of Education's (SDCOE) Juvenile Court and Community Schools program at its regular meeting.
"In addition to giving the board a chance to honor a student, participation in the meeting also gives students valuable experience in leadership," said Dr. Paul Gothold, San Diego County superintendent of schools.
SDCOE's Juvenile Court and Community Schools program educates nearly 5,000 students each year who are either wards of the court or have been referred by social services, Probation, or one of the county's 42 school districts. Services are provided at more than 20 sites across the county to students who are incarcerated, pregnant or parenting, in foster care, expelled, chronically truant, in drug treatment centers and group homes for neglected or abused children, and experiencing homelessness.