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Listening to Latinas: Lucy Flores

I'm Lucy Flores

I am a first generation Mexican American. I am the youngest girl of 13 siblings. I was raised in poverty by my father, and growing up I didn't have much to strive for.

My mother left when I was nine years old. Every single one of my sisters-six of them-got pregnant when they were teenagers. I currently have two brothers who are in prison and lost two brothers as a result of drug and gang violence.

98 % of Latinas we surveyed want to finish high school.

41% of Latinas don't.

My father worked day and night to provide for us. I grew up in an environment where there was no positive role models, and the only people who were available were gang members, so that's who I turned to.

I was twelve years old when I began my life of crime. Started out with small things; ditching school, petty Larceny but then the seriousness gradually escalated; grand theft auto, breaking into homes And even though I was enrolled in Gifted and Talented education, I purposely started failing my classes because I wanted to be with my cool friends. No one noticed. They didn't call my dad, they didn't send letters; I was basically just another Latina at a low-income school. And I was just another number.

Latinas are the fastest growing group of female school-aged youth.

I was finally sentenced to a long-term juvenile detention facility. Nine months later I was released back into the same environment and when I finally dropped out of high school at the end of my junior year no one cared.

One third of the girls we surveyed
do not expect to achieve their educational goals.

That was the expectation for me and that's the expectation that continues for young Latinas across the country. Drop-out, get pregnant, be a single-mother, work some menial job the rest of your life and just try to make your way as best as you can.

Every Latina deserves support to realize her dreams.

Fortunately for me I had people who intervened. A major person in my life was my parole officer and then later on my co workers all who convinced me that I was capable of more.

I got my GED. I enrolled at the Community College of Southern Nevada. Now I'm a third year law student. I am also running for a State Assembly seat for the state of Nevada.

It is critical for our nation's health and prosperity
to invest in Latinas' success.

Young Latinas shouldn't have to struggle that much. They deserve more from our schools. I fell through the cracks, but managed to make my way back up. I was one of the lucky ones.

It shouldn't just be about luck.

To expand the possibilities for Latinas, take action at
www.nwlc.org/listening