Age is not a factor when it comes to making a difference in the world. These 12 Latinas are proof of that! Some of them are barely adults, but they sure are inspirational:
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Lizzie VelasquezFacebook View all slides
Tania ChairezFacebook View all slides
Victoria JusticeGetty Images View all slides
Eliana de la CasasView all slides
Samantha MarquezView all slides
Selena GomezCorbis View all slides
Julietta LopezView all slides
Paloma Noyola BuenoWIRED View all slides
Raini RodriguezGetty Images View all slides
Dianna MartinezView all slides
Ana AlarconView all slides
Bella ThorneGetty Images View all slides
Next Slideshow: Latinas of the Year: The 14 Most Inspirational Women Of 2013
This 25-year-old Mexican-American has been labeled “the world’s ugliest woman” on YouTube by a person she has never met — an act so mean that others may have let it affect them, but Velasquez hasn’t let that stop her. Although she has a very rare condition that doesn’t let her body store fat,, she doesn’t let her syndrome define her. “Am I gonna let the people who called me a monster define me? No. I’m gonna let my goals and my success and my accomplishments be the things that define me,” she said in a YouTube video. Now, she serves as a motivational speaker.
Getting arrested doesn’t seem like something to look up to, but University of Pennsylvania student Chairez is fighting for the rights of people just like her. She and her parents emigrated to the United States when she was 5, and most of her life, she felt she was caught in between two cultures and constantly afraid. Before she was arrested in 2012, she wrote an email about her intentions. “If you are reading this email, I have been arrested in a planned act of civil disobedience,” the letter said. “I refuse to allow immigrant communities to be criminalized, so I am taking a stand and fighting back. I want undocumented youth to realize that they are not alone and that they can make their voices heard.” She’s certainly undocumented and unafraid, as her Twitter profile reads.
Justice became a star before she could even drink – a right she only just earned this past February – and she has managed to use her celebrity status for good. She joined United Nation’s Girl Up campaign in 2010 to empower teen girls in third world countries; she has supported Aid Still Required, a charity that continues helping communities that have been impacted by natural disasters long after they stop being headlines; and in 2014, she joined forces with AARP to encourage teenagers to make handmade Valentine’s Day cards for older adults.
This little Cuban and Honduran chica is a 13-year-old chef. She has a cookbook series and weekly radio show, proving that you’re never too young to follow your dreams. De La Casas also has a big heart. She provided the menu for the 4th Annual Dove Self-Esteem Weekend, which works with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Girls Inc. and Girl Scouts to help girls overcome self-esteem issues. “I love the commitment Dove has made to create a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety,” she told us. “6 out of 10 girls stop doing the things they love because they feel bad about their looks. That’s crazy! I wanted to join Dove shine a light on the girls who never stop doing what they love! I am proud to be an unstoppable girl.” Can you imagine what she'll accomplish as an adult?
At 12 years old, Marquez developed Celloidosomes, a hollow structure of cells. This high school senior has been working with micro-liver tissues for liver reconstruction using Celloidosomes and if that wasn’t amazing enough, she’s also trying to encourage other Latinos to take an interest in science. As she tells New Latina, “Something that I’d like to continue to do is talk about the role that we as Hispanics in the community have in providing good role models for the youth of today and the youth of tomorrow. I don’t think it’s right that Hispanics are always represented in the movies as drug dealers and bad guys. That’s not what we are.”
In late 2013, Gomez was named one of the most generous stars by The Hollywood Reporter. She worked with Ryan Seacrest’s foundation and visited many children in the hospital. She’s also a UNICEF ambassador and has been since 2009, something that she takes very seriously. In 2011 – a year after a devastating earthquake hit Haiti – she asked fans via a video to not forget what happened and to help out by donating as much as they could. The message was simple: “Haiti still really needs our help.”
A Queens, New York native, Lopez works as the constituent liaison for Senator Charles E. Schumer, and she’s in the process of earning her masters in International Relations and Affairs. And though she’s passionate about the work she does – environment, veteran and military affairs as well as FEMA – she didn’t want to stop at just her bachelor’s degree. “I applied and got into the program I wanted, so I didn’t want to stop once I got this job,” she said to us. “It’s definitely difficult to balance full-time school and work, but you know, the program is two years. That’s two years to better my life. It’s okay to give up socializing.” Next stop? Public policy, so she can help more people.
Last November, Wired magazine dubbed this tween “The Next Steve Jobs." Bueno is the youngest of eight children, and she received a 921 in a standardized test, making her the best performer in math in Mexico. Before her father died in 2012 of lung cancer, he told her to study hard and make him proud. It looks like she’s well on her way.
When she’s not busy making us laugh on Austin & Ally, Rodriguez is doing good for others. She joined Friends For Change to help put a stop to bullying, something she has experienced herself. She attended a workshop that gave her the skills to show others how to take a stand against bullies.
This college student leads a photo booth business, where she hopes to help other young photographers break into the field. Martinez is part of the Las Fotos Project, which empowers young Latinas through photography. Last fall, she attended the Latinas Think Big event, which has inspired her to do more. “I plan to create, execute, and succeed with an idea by the age of 25,” she said to New Latina. “[This] sounds ambitious, but after hearing these real women speak, I believe it’s all possible.”
As someone who isn’t even 20, Alarcon has more than just her future on her mind. She’s an anti-human trafficking advocate and she's spoken at the National Youth Summit on Abolition alongside human trafficking experts. Alarcon was accepted into Fordham University, where she wants to study international relations. “Human trafficking is just a link to so many world issues–poverty, drugs, abuse–it’s all interconnected,” she said. “If I can stop one thing, it will be a chain reaction to cause peace somewhere else.”
Thorne has been very open about being dyslexic. “I have learned to live with it and make the best of it,” she told DoSomething.org. “I was told to read everything from street signs to cereal boxes, and that my mom shouldn’t read the menu for me. I should read it to her! It has helped a great deal. I am reading well, but it’s something I work on every day.” And now, she’s on her way to becoming an author!