Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara Teen Center Member Sarahi Larios Cruz, 16, has been selected as one of 12 teens from Girls Inc. affiliates in the U.S. and Canada to serve on the 2019-2020 National Teen Advocacy Council (TAC). This is the first time a teen member of the Santa Barbra Girls Inc. affiliate has served in a national leadership capacity.
The TAC is starting its fourth year as an advisory body to the Girls Inc. National Public Policy Team. TAC members inform Girls Inc. National about issues facing girls and teens in their respective local communities. Additionally, the teen members support Girls Inc. advocacy efforts through writing blog posts, sharing messages on social media, and speaking publicly about the #GirlsToo campaign. #GirlsToo, the Network-wide campaign launched in October 2018, is aimed at preventing K-12 sexual harassment and violence.
“I feel honored to be able to contribute to my community in this way,” says Cruz. “Being on the TAC will give me the chance to voice the concerns and issues that young folks experience.”
Cruz, a junior at Dos Pueblos High School, has attended Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara since the 3rd grade, and calls it her “Second Home” and her “Happy Place.” Most recently, she served as the Teen Speaker at the 2019 Celebration Luncheon where she spoke openly about the racial and gender prejudice she has experienced as a Mexican-American young woman in her school and in our community.
She credits Girls Inc. for giving her opportunities to discover and fully embrace her authentic self, and for teaching her how to confidently use her voice to advocate for change. When told by a guidance counselor she wasn’t smart enough to take and succeed in AP classes, Sarahi worked with her Girls Inc. mentors to build her case to advocate for herself and for her academic opportunities. Since standing up for herself, Sarahi has successfully completed seven Honors and AP courses.
“Girls Inc. has taught me the importance of education and to love who you are,” Cruz added. “I have learned how to be independent, speak up for myself, and discover how powerful I am.”
Sarahi plans to attend San Diego State University or UC Berkeley to study Women’s Studies and Chicanx Studies. She will be the first in her family to attend and graduate from a four-year university.
The 2019-2020 Girls Inc. National Teen Advocacy Council is comprised of young women ages 14-18, representing all four Girls Inc. regions and the following Girls Inc. affiliates: Greater Santa Barbara, Central Alabama, Chattanooga, Washington County, Memphis, Upper Canada, Owensboro-Daviess County, Chicago, San Antonio, Greater Indianapolis, Orange County, The Valley.
[At Girls Inc.] I have learned how to be independent, speak up for myself, and discover how powerful I am.