“She’s going to be the first Latina president of the United States,” said Gudiela Reyes, beaming with pride, as she referred to her daughter Melanie Rojas, a senior at Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet at Townview.
Rojas is already off to a good start in the field of civic leadership, as she recently became a member of the City of Dallas Youth Commission, representing City Council District 5. Appointed by former Dallas ISD Trustee Jaime Resendez, the council member who represents that district, she is making her first venture into politics, and she plans to use her voice to empower not only youth but all members of her community.
“My goal is to make an impact in my Pleasant Grove community and to motivate fellow students so they can have access to the opportunities that come along with studying and pursuing an education,” said Rojas, one of 15 members on the city’s youth commission, whose purpose is to bring the youth perspective to city government and have them work with other teens in their respective districts to bring about positive changes.
Rojas joined the youth commission this past summer after seeing a social media post that called for teens in her district to apply. One of the community leaders who motivated her to apply was Lorena Tule-Romain, a Dallas ISD alumna and the founder of ImmSchools, an organization that empowers immigrant families. “Melanie’s passion to serve others fills me with hope for our future generation. Her resilience and work ethic is admirable and highlights the values her immigrant parents have instilled in her,” said Tule-Romain.
At her first youth commission meeting in August, the members talked about upcoming projects, such as launching a new youth publication that would be entirely written by youth and would bring to light the important work that youth are doing in our city. “Through this publication, my hope is that we motivate youth to let them know that our voices need to be heard, as well as to highlight our talents,” she said.
Not only is Rojas active in her Southeast Dallas community, but she is also involved in her school’s moot court team, varsity orchestra, LULAC, and ballet folklorico, in addition to her City of Dallas Youth Commissioner position. After high school, she plans to study medicine.
Reyes, her mother, said that when it comes to speaking up, Rojas has never been one to hold back. “When she sets her mind to achieving something, she’s going to achieve it,” said Reyes, who instilled in her daughter from a young age the belief that she can use her voice to help others in need.
“As a young Latina, I feel that I have to work double or triple as hard,” Rojas said. “It’s important that we serve on these boards and commissions so our voices can be heard. It’s not just for us, but it’s about representation and for future generations.”
Reyes is not the least surprised that her daughter is thriving in school and as a youth community leader, as she saw these leadership qualities in her daughter at an early age. “I remember Melanie always achieving student of the month and was the leader in her class,” she said. “Her cousins would visit from Mexico and they would call her president of the United States, and that stuck with her.”
Knowing all the hard work she has been putting in to achieve her dreams, with the intent of uplifting others, Reyes said, “I just know she’s going to be the first Latina president of the United States. She’s going to be the first.”