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Thank you, SOY: Letters from alumni

March 22, 2012

I cannot overstate the impact that the SOY Girls program has had on the person I am today. It was a space where girls could talk about issues like dating, health and hygiene, self-esteem, and self-empowerment. It felt safe to talk about anything I had on my mind and I knew that I would receive sound advice from Ivis, the program coordinator.

When Trevor informed us that he wanted to take a group of us SOY Girls to hike Mt. Whitney, I was not planning to sign up. I was afraid I would not be able to do it, but the center staff helped me get the courage to take part on the trip. Little did I know that it would be an amazing test to my physical and mental strength.

I had never been much of an athlete before the trip, but training for it made me feel great and put me on a path to become a healthier person. At 4'9", I was the smallest girl on the trip. The summit was excruciatingly difficult, but I was determined to finish along with the other SOY Girls.

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I realized that it was my mind that made it more difficult. My legs could keep going, even if at a snail's pace, but my mind kept telling me it was too hard. I overcame the thoughts of failure, and within days I was at the peak of the tallest mountain in the continental United States.

It felt great, so great that I was excited to do it twice my junior and senior year of high school. I use the Mt. Whitney trip to remind me that I can do anything I set my mind to. The toughest obstacle to overcome is your own fear.

Today I am a UCSD alumna, working at the UCSD Multimodal Imaging Laboratory as a staff research associate. I have been published in scientific journals for the work I have done in MEG and MRI studies investigating how the brain processes language. I also volunteer weekly at a nonprofit organization aimed to help underprivileged inner-city youth become first-generation college students. I am very dedicated to this San Diego-based program because I know firsthand how helping children go to college can impact their lives positively and creates a better future.

Thank you for your time and for learning more about the Save Our Youth Center.

Christina Torres

SOY Scholar Class of 2006

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A Sense of Community

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Angelica Hernandez and I was part of the SOY Scholarship Program for my senior year of high school. Although I was not part of SOY for a long time, I felt a sense of community with people who shared the same goals that I do.

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