Latina’s readers have told us repeatedly on Facebook how much they’d like to see us feature more inspirational stories about everyday Latinas. And since we ALWAYS listen to our readers, we are launching "Inspiring Young Latina of the Week," a unique weekly column where we will be profiling young Latinas who are making a difference in America. Check back every Monday to read about these trailblazing mujeres!
We're proud to kick off this new column with a truly inspiring young woman named Gaby Rodriguez. Gaby is a Washington teen whose fake pregnancy turned a Senior Project into a national story.
Here's Why Gaby inspires us: Last year, the then 17-year-old senior at Toppenish High School in Toppenish, Washington, pretended to be pregnant for six months for her Senior Project, a requirement for graduation. Rodriguez told only a handful of people about the experiment, which was aimed to bring awareness to stereotypes often pegged to Latina youth. Among those in on the months-long secret were the teenager’s mother, boyfriend, and school principal, Trevor Greene. Greene said he admired Rodriguez’s courage in an interview with the Yakima-Herald newspaper. “In essence, she gave up her senior year,” he said. “She sacrificed her senior year to find out what it would be like to be a potential teen mom.”
As a result of Rodriguez's experiment (and her courage), the inspiring young Latina opened up a flood of discussions about stereotypes and statistics, and helped to teach her peers (and those aware of her experiment) about the seriousness of teenage pregnancy. In her new book The Pregnancy Project (out January 17th), Rodriguez said if it could happen to her, it could happen to her peers, and encouraged them to "make responsible decisions about their bodies and sexuality."
Rodriguez's story is so inspiring that it not only prompted a book, but also a movie! Lifetime is set to premiere The Pregnancy Project, an original movie based on Rodriguez's experiment. The film, which stars Colombian actress Alexa Vega, airs on Jan. 28 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
We can only imagine what kind of looks and disdain from others the young Rodriguez had to endure during her experiment, which makes her that much more courageous to us. Rodriguez graduated in the top 5 percent of her class and is now in college!
Keep making us proud, Gaby! Do you know an inspiring young Latina? If so, email us at InspiringLatinas@Latina.com!