Power Within By Linda Contreras

In life, you have the ability to choose what defines you and whether you let it shape who you are. Often times, you have a difficult time embracing the things that do. However, when you truly embrace the person you are whether that be your background, ethnicity, or the way you were brought up- you’ll realize the power you have within.

Growing up, I didn't embrace my Latina roots. Instead of fighting the stereotypes and stigma that surrounded the culture, I remained silent. It wasn't until this year that I realized how powerful it is to be different, to allow my Latina roots to define me, and to embrace every aspect of who I am. Too often, women, and women of color in particular, are told to sit down, to be quiet, and to make themselves less than. But there's been a cultural shift in recent years- a shift that I've finally opened my eyes to. For instance, the newly elected members of the 116th Congress are more diverse than ever before. Many of them are powerful women of color who know their worth and use their differences and their experiences to be good representatives of the people who elected them.

Because of them, I now see the impact I can make. I see the power in my Latina identity and in my womanhood. I'm proud that I can follow the steps of these amazing women - I want young girls like me to embrace the power they also have and young people in general to embrace the people that they are and use that as a strength, not as a weakness or something to feel ashamed about.

Triveni Patel