Senior helps the community in every corner
Lizette Juarez was just a sophomore, but her age did not pose a challenge as she led juniors through SAT practice questions in preparation for something wasn’t going to take yet. In her sophomore year she worked six to 20 hours a week at the Oak Park Housing Authority to aid children from the ages of five through 18 to become first generation college students.
Juarez was a valuable asset to the students at Oak Park who lacked the support they needed to succeed from home. Her estimated 375 hours spent helping with the Oak Park Acorns after school program for elementary schoolers and Youth Works helping to teach job skills and preparation for the working world were for things beyond the college application process. In the end, her efforts to aid the Oak Park community extended beyond herself to simply wanting to give to the future generations. Her leadership touched all corners as she spread herself and made herself known in AP classes, Key Club, Varsity Cheer, ASB, Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church and Leadership.
“I just totally fell in love with all these kids. It’s so crazy because I started with them the summer after my sophomore year and I just stopped working with them this last month. It’s so crazy to see how much they have improved,” Juarez said, as her voice changed tone, emphasizing the word love.
Running the summer camp for the kids last summer of 2015 pushed her limits, because she was also participating in a Cuesta class, cheer camp, her church, and working at the Oak Park Housing Authority, but in the end she got more than she bargained for. Through experiences like the summer camp, Juarez has grown to enjoy the way the children admire her and how much they have made a difference in her life in the midst of teaching her patience and how to balance herself.
Before she could become the well rounded student she aspired to be, she had to overcome fears. As a freshman, Juarez says she was just like any other freshman stuck in her own little bubble. It wasn’t until she stopped caring about what the crowd would say that she could become the person she is today.
“There’s just this really big step you have to take to learn to not care what the crowd is going to say. You have to be sure of yourself and you have to do things to make yourself happy,” Juarez said.
Through this change she became a confident, outgoing 17 year old, cheerleader, goal setter, and achiever. Her new mindset and personality assisted her in her effort to leave her mark on people and the community.
“The community has definitely made me care about others. It’s a nice feeling to put others before you and then see them be happy…that’s what makes me happy–making others happy,” Juarez said.
Her work extends past the Oak Park community to St. Rose of Lima church with food fundraisers to raise money to send kids seven through 12 years of age and teens ages 14 through 7 years of age to retreats in the church to connect with them and connect them to God. The fundraisers often take place at the St. Rose parish before and after the Sunday 10 a.m. mass and 12:30 a.m. mass.
“I really like helping put on the retreats for teens because when they go there it’s because they want to get closer to God and I think it’s really important for us to be able to put on those events for people to go and find what they are seeking,” Juarez said.
Juarez is a believer in the Catholic faith because the religion has made her into a person that can make her own opinions and become a tolerant and understanding person of other people’s beliefs. Growing up Juarez had been a person that constantly formed opinions on anything she came across. This has made her strive to learn about other religions and understand them in order to form her own opinions and not just have to conform to what others say. Juarez believes that one must have an open mind to listen to other people’s beliefs in order to form your own without necessarily having to believe that idea yourself.
High school has grown her as an individual, and made her step out of her comfort zone.
“If you looked at me when I was a freshman compared to now, I’m a totally bigger person. As a freshman, I never would’ve imagined myself being able to perform in front of a crowd of hundreds of people during a halftime at a football game. I would’ve never imagined myself being able to talk in front of other students my age or adults,” Juarez said.
She started cheering at the end of her sophomore year for the Varsity squad after
being encouraged by teacher Jennifer Bedrosian.
Juarez’s enjoys reaching out to others, meeting new people, and encouraging them to be the best they can. Her best friend, senior Daniela Reyes, has experienced it first hand since they met freshman year.
“She’s grown into a great leader and leads others in a great way. She encouraged me to apply to college, and now I will be attending SFSU thanks to her encouraging me to apply,” Reyes said.
Juarez’s loveable personality has taken her best friend, other half, soul mate, senior Jose Lopez, by storm. Lopez says she has changed his perception on life, made him feel loved, opened his mind, and taken him out of his comfort zone.