Tell me about yourself and about your participation in Young Leaders in Action, or Jóvenes Líderes en Acción. 

I am in eighth grade and I’m homeschooled right now. I’m in theater—I’m in two shows right now, 13 and Ragtime

I’m with the Youth Health Council [Program] and I’m an ambassador for the Young Leaders in Action (YLA). I do a lot of stuff with the Youth Health Council and I help out with the events, I set up for a lot of the Latino fests around the area, and pretty much do a lot of that. I’ve been in the YLA for about a year now.

What inspired you to join YLA? 

For one reason, I like it how, there, we pretty much only speak Spanish, and I kind of wanted a place where I could talk in Spanish to get better at my Spanish so I can talk to my dad whenever I want to and be better grammatically and pronunciation-wise. And also, I just like helping around young Latinos who have dreams and might not be able to get those dreams. I like helping them so they can pursue their dreams.

How was the experience going to the Dominican Republic to meet President Luis Rodolfo Abinader Corona?

It was a wonderful experience. First off, because I just personally love the Dominican Republic, I [tell everyone] I’m Dominican all the time. And I just love learning more about the country and learning more about the Palacio Nacional over there. It was an honor to meet him because I shared some ideas to make the country better, and I think he listened, but it was just an honor to meet an official from over there.

Aaron Azcona meeting Dominican Republic president Luis Rodolfo Abinader Corona. Credit: Courtesy of subject

What kind of ideas did you share?

I had shared with him that he should consider putting musical theater and dance classes for an after-school program, because right now, I think they only have ballet classes there. But I just told him how theater, it’s a place where kids can be a different person. It just opens a lot of doors for them, it helps them with social skills that help them get closer to their friends. It’s also better for the parents so they can kind of have more [time to] work and their kids can have more time to play and not just do school all day.

What was the application process like?

I applied for this award; I had to submit my résumé and all the activities and my grades and letters of recommendation.

What kind of support did you get during this process?

I got a lot of support. My dad supported me a lot, he took off from work for the entire week so he could take me [to the Dominican Republic]. And he made sure I had everything ready, everything that I needed, he helped submit all my grades and everything. And also I had a lot of support from my mom, because she just helped me get to where I am with all my achievements I’ve had in the past year; she just pushed me and pushed me to go as far as I can. I had also gone to the @weareunidosus Changemakers Summit in Washington, DC, so a lot of people from the Youth Health Council supported me in this.

How will you continue to uphold this title of excellence going forward?

I’m trying to continue on keeping with academic excellence because I do want to go to SAB—the School of American Ballet in New York—for high school or even UNCSA for high school, and academics are very tough there. And the dance there is very intense so I do intend to keep on pushing.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

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