Anais Avila understands the challenges young people from a Latin-American background face navigating the education system. Many come from families where young people are expected to take on adult responsibilities in their late teens. This often means helping to raise younger siblings and getting a job to support the family.

Avila, a junior at McArthur High School, comes from a Cuban family. She is a leader in Latinos in Action. “We are a club for leadership and we want to educate people on Latin culture,” Avila said.

Latinos in Action is both a club and an elective course for credit at the school. The offering focuses on three pillars – leadership, literacy and service – and is part of a national White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. According to the Broward School District, the group aims to provide Latino students with increased opportunities while empowering them to complete their high school education and attend college after graduation.

Anais Avila, Ashley Aramenteros and Isabel Cabrera

Ashley Aramenteros, also a club leader, said she loves being a member of the group and wants to help people in her community wherever and whenever possible. “We tutor and mentor elementary school children. They often look up to us and we want to help them,” she said.

Members of Latinos in Action tutor children at Boulevard Heights Elementary School and West Hollywood Elementary School. They help them learn basic English and support them in other subjects such as math and science. They encourage them to pursue academic studies and do their best.

Isabel Cabrera, a leader in Latinos in Action, enjoys the opportunity to tutor younger students. “We will help the children learn to spell their names and the basics of math and science. It is a nice experience. I like that they look up to us like big brothers and sisters,” she said.

Members of Latinos in Action consider themselves a large family and enjoy spending time together. During the spring, the group is planning to hold a pageant to celebrate academic and personal achievement more than personal beauty. Members of the organization will continue to promote the positive qualities of Latin-American culture.

Alex Polanco, the adviser to Latinos in Action, is pleased with the students’ work. “The members can mentor elementary school students, which is a great leadership opportunity. The program greatly helps its members develop leadership skills,” Polanco said.