This week we’re pleased to introduce you to Monika Langarica who has fought adversity and substandard conditions to not only become the first in her family to go away to school, but to also leave a positive, lasting impact on her community in the wake of her success. We were made aware of Monika’s story through an email from her stepmother, Martha Gonzalez, and now we’re proud to reveal her many accomplishments here to you.
Here’s Why Monika Inspires Us:
Growing up in a deteriorating southeast San Diego neighborhood wrought with violence, Monkia, the daughter of two Mexican immigrants, was determined to better her situation through education. She was lucky for the opportunity to attend the Preuss School, a college prep school in La Jolla, California, even if that meant she would spend 3 hours each day riding the bus.
Her success at Preuss did not go unnoticed and after graduating high school Monika left to attend college at the University of Southern California on a full scholarship from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It didn’t take long for this go-getter to make her mark on the University. She quickly joined the Joint Education Project as well as Chicanos for Progressive Education (CPE), a group dedicated to recruiting and retaining Black and Latino students in higher education, of which she eventually became the president. Somehow Monika also found the time to mentor high school youth and make the Dean’s List Honor Roll – every semester.
As if this wasn’t enough, Monika’s list of accomplishments continued to grow throughout her college career. She held down two jobs, one as a Program Assistant with the Joint Educational Project and another as an intern with the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity. She also interned with Jose Huizar, the local Boyle Heights city councilman, and the National Farm Workers Service Center’s Si Se Puede! Learning Center where she educated children of low-income Latino families.
Monika’s commitment to her community did not end there as she became a part of the McNair Scholars Program through which she created original research on urban education and the Black and Latino educational pipeline, which has gone on to win awards like the Phi Kappa Phi Academic Honor. She was then asked to present her findings at a conference with the Eastern Sociological Society.
After completing the UCLA Law Fellows Program, she applied to law schools and now has her pick between USD Law, UCLA Law, UC Berkley Law School and Columbia Law where she hopes to go into either immigration law or youth criminal defense.
“Her neighborhood was poor, her schools substandard and she had few to zero college graduate role models around her,” stated stepmother Gonzalez in her email to us. “Her ability to beat the odds that were constructed for her and excel in the face of unequal opportunities are testaments to the way she sees her circumstances as fuel to her ambition, rather than excuses to fail.”
We applaud Monika for her work in not only bettering herself through education and perseverance, but for taking the time to better her community along the way. We can’t wait to see what big things she’ll be do in the future. Keep up the incredible work!
Do you know an inspiring young Latina? If so, email us at InspiringLatinas@Latina.com!