Maddie Scullion and Eva Dougherty
“She will do what she has to do. She is the type of person who will to come to you and ask ‘what can I do to help;’ most kids are not like that,” said Kristine Wisnieski, ESL teacher at Jamesville- DeWitt High School. Mrs. Wisnieski is describing her student, senior Ana Carolina Piedra. Piedra has been recognized for these qualities by being selected to attend this year’s Hispanic Youth Conference for the second year in a row. The conference takes place March 22-24 in the state capitol buildings in Albany.
To earn her spot for this conference, Piedra had to write a 1,000 word essay. This year’s essay topic was bullying. In this essay she had to explain what she could do as an individual to stand up to this problem. Some ways Piedra thinks bullying can be prevented are “campaigns, offering talks at schools about bullying and teaching kids to protect themselves in a non-violent way,” said Piedra. In her essay, she also described who she thought were most often the victims of bullying.
At the conference, Piedra will be discussing the bills that are in progress with New York State delegates. All of the attendees will be able to follow around an assembly man or woman and do what they would do for a day.The attendees will attend speeches and meetings. They will also be able to give a speech about bullying and talk about the bills being passed.
Mrs. Wisnieski describes the conference as “teaching Hispanic and Latino youth to be a voice in our society” and gives students the opportunity to meet with state government officials, educators, and business leaders. “I am very excited about it, but I’m sure it’s going to be challenging,” said Piedra. Before she goes to the conference she has to attend a few training sessions here in Syracuse . At the first few training sessions they will discuss what it means to be a leader. At the rest of the sessions they discuss bills and understand how they work. They also do some public speaking activities. Each training session is about four and a half hours.
Since Piedra is a senior this year, she will have the opportunity to earn a college scholarship from the conference based on her essay and her performance at the conference. In college, Piedra wants to double major in international relations and anthropology, but doesn’t know what school she wants to attend yet. With these two majors, Piedra will have a variety of job choices. She could be a journalist/writer, or create a non-govermental organization or work at the United Nations, which is what she really wants to do.
Mrs. Wisnieski describes preparing for this conference as a lot of hard work. First, Ana had to fill out several forms and get them signed by the principal and her guidance counselor. Next, she had to take the time to write an essay on top of all of the school work that she received. “There’s a number of great candidates here that could of done it, but I don't think they did because they didn’t want that extra thing,” said Mrs. Wisnieski.
Mrs. Wisnieski said that Piedra came to JDHS last year from Ecuador with a good base of English. ”It was very difficult last year,” said Mrs Wisnieski. Piedra comes from a family that values education. Mrs. Wisnieski believes that it makes a difference when you have a family that thinks education is important. “She did phenomenal on the Regents at the end of the year,” said Mrs. Wisnieski.