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Youth Leader Spotlight with Maria Salmeron

"My advice for adults would be to foster healthy, supportive, and trustworthy relationships with young people from the beginning. Once the trust is there, adults can mentor young people in finding their passion and guide them through the process of developing into successful young adults."
 
Maria Salmeron is from Silver Spring, Maryland and a graduate from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. Salmeron is currently in her freshman year at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania as a Posse scholar on a four-year full-tuition leadership scholarship.afro latina
 
In high school, Salmeron was actively involved with the Minority Scholars Program, a member of the leadership team, and she served as president of her high school’s chapter during her senior year. Additionally, during her senior year, Salmeron served as Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School’s student body vice-president and made diversity and inclusion her top priorities.
 
Salmeron is passionate about working within her community and engaging people to see the world through a different lens, not just their own, to make the world a better place. America’s Promise talked to Salmeron about what inspired her to get involved with her community and the caring adults who have impacted her life.  Take a look at her answers below.
 

What inspired you to get involved in your community?

 
In the spring of my freshman year of high school, I participated in a march that aimed to raise awareness about the academic achievement gap. The rally was organized by the Minority Scholars Program, a student-led initiative that focuses on closing the achievement gap affecting minority students in Montgomery County Public Schols. I looked around me and saw hundreds of students passionate about social justice and educational disparities affecting minorities, which I really appreciated. 
 
After the march, I joined the student-led initiative, not knowing what I was in for, but knowing there was something that the movement sparked in me. Ever since, I’ve been inspired to close the achievement gap between black and Latino students and their white and Asian peers. Throughout my years in the program, I’ve seen how positive social change can be achieved by an organized group of people who aim to put an end to educational disparities and put students first.
 

What impact have you made in your community that you are most proud of?

 
I’ve created spaces and safe zones for people to exchange meaningful dialogue in a way that is productive, honest, and constructive. On the other hand, I’ve also learned how to lead from my identity as an Afro-Latina with pride, and I’ve influenced others to lead from their identity as well.
 

Who is a caring adult that has made an impact on your life, and what did you learn?

 
My mom. She’s taught me how to be open to new perspectives and to listen to understand instead of discrediting those who disagree with me right away. Not only has this helped me mature, but it has also allowed me to engage in productive conversations with people from all backgrounds.
 

What advice would you give to adults who work with young people?

 
My advice for adults would be to foster healthy, supportive, and trustworthy relationships with young people from the beginning. Once the trust is there, adults can mentor young people in finding their passion and guide them through the process of developing into successful young adults. It is imperative for adults to cater to the experience of young people and promote inclusive environments where our voices are heard and where we can build ourselves up as leaders.
 

What are your plans and goals for the future?

 
I plan to graduate Lafayette College with a double major in Economics and Government & Law. Once I graduate, I want to use my expertise to reform the educational system and become a policymaker.