Luchadora Profile: Bethania Perez, Demonstrating that a Student’s Seat at the Table Can Make a Difference

Bethania Perez is much too wise and socially conscious for her young age. As a high school senior, she has already accomplished more than the average student. Bethania attends El Rancho High School, located in her hometown, the city of Pico Rivera, where the college graduation rate is low, a fact that she wishes to change. Throughout her high school journey, her schedule has been intentionally packed with AP/Honors courses, Rio Hondo Community College courses, and multiple extra-curricular activities because she wanted to take advantage of all the opportunities available to her that she knew not many other students had access too.

It was Bethania’s early awareness of the disparities in access that led her to join programs like Be A Leader and College Blueprint, both college readiness programs funded through the Generation 1st-Degree Pico Rivera organization. Additionally, she took it upon herself to become a peer advisor, where she was trained over the summer leading into senior year on everything she needed to know to help her classmates apply to college, scholarships, FAFSA, SAT/ACT as well as become knowledgeable about the many resources available to help facilitate the transition from high school into the real world. In addition to her role as a peer advisor and her involvement with College Blueprint and Be A Leader, she serves as the President of CSF, the prestigious and highly selective California Scholarship Federation, is a member of the National Honor Society, Link Crew and even takes time to be a part of the school’s soccer and tennis teams.

When the opportunity to apply to the Better Make Room Student Advisory Board came up, Michelle Obama’s college opportunity campaign that celebrates higher education and elevates the voices of Gen-Z students, she knew she had to put forth her best work as she understood the impact she could make by representing her counterparts at the national level. Bethania’s achievements, experiences and progressive perspective proved to be just what the recruiting committee was looking for as she became one of 17 students in the country, to be selected as members of the inaugural Better Make Room Student Advisory Board. While humility is one of Bethania’s strongest characteristics, she shared the positive impact her own success would make on students who shared a similar story to hers.

“Being that I’m a first-generation Latina student from a low-income household, I believe several young girls and boys will see my story and know that they too can achieve big things. I feel that my accomplishment has not only inspired students from my school but students at greater levels to dream big and fight for what they believe is right,” Bethania said. “It has also shown students that no matter their background, their dreams are attainable.”

Bethania has big hopes for her work with Better Make Room. The student advisory board consists of students who are committed to the mission of Better Make Room and have already demonstrated their remarkable ability to create change in their own communities. As members of the student advisory board, student advisors will be responsible for mobilizing their peers to create a college-going and college persistence environment on their campuses. These young leaders will help the country once again lead the world in college completion rates.

As a first-generation college student, Bethania aspires to not only change the narrative for her family but to also serve as a role model for other students. She brags about her parents every chance she gets and takes pride in the work ethic they embedded within her. Bethania credits their constant support and words of encouragement for her determination and tenacity. She aspires to major in biomedical engineering and even after only submitting her college applications a few months ago, is already looking into master degree programs and possibly doctorate programs, as she hopes to ultimately make an impact in the field of engineering and open doors for more Latina women to join her. Bethania’s deep passion for mathematics, science and helping others is what leads her to pursue this particular route.

Bethania is a role model for many. As a Latina, she takes pride in her current position to provide students of all backgrounds equal access to education. She hopes to be an inspiration to young girls and for them to know that despite all the glass ceilings, they are powerful, valuable, and needed. She hopes for students to hear her story and know that “no matter how many setbacks they face, their goals are still attainable.” For her commitment to empowering women of all ages to follow their dreams, and her commitment to educational equity as a student advocate, we honor Bethania as a luchadora.

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Alma Renteria

Alma Renteria

Alma-Delia Renteria is a proud product of Lynwood schools. As a student in Lynwood, Alma was very involved which developed in her a passion for community outreach and education. After graduating UC Riverside, with a B.A. in English and a year earlier than anticipated, she decided to make her “4th year” of college a year of giving back by joining the national non-profit City Year. While at City Year Los Angeles, Alma built a strong network of education advocates which encouraged her to apply and join the prestigious Teach For America program. Upon joining TFA, Alma began her education career as a middle school teacher in Downtown Los Angeles. It was while teaching that she realized the need to do her part to help serve the community she grew up in. Alma was elected to the Lynwood School Board in 2013, where she made college accessibility/readiness a main priority. Alma completed her Master’s degree in Urban Education at Loyola Marymount University and is currently serving her second term as Board President for the Lynwood Unified School District. She also serves as a Digital Learning Instructional Coach at a dual immersion school in Pico Rivera.

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