Personal Essay

By Jasmin Martinez Ortiz
Riverhead High School

As a first-generation Latina, my earliest memories revolve around translating important documents for my family. Acting as the translator for my family has instilled in me independence and patience when helping others. From a young age, I have always enjoyed assisting others, whether it was for my family, friends from school, or even strangers. I eagerly sought out opportunities to immerse myself in activities that allowed me to make a difference in this world and help others because I genuinely enjoyed it and found fulfillment in doing so.
I have always harbored a desire to actively engage in my community. That opportunity arose during my junior year when I joined my school’s Key Club, an experience that has proven to be exceptionally fulfilling. By the end of my junior year, I was able to obtain over 40 community service hours. My eagerness as a member of Key Club to give back to my community sparked a strong desire to deepen my involvement by joining the Key Club board as the Webmaster (Social Media Coordinator) at the end of my junior year. As the Webmaster, I am responsible for being present at all community service events and capturing all moments of our club. Being the Webmaster is significant to our club because as our society becomes more advanced in the digital world, using social media is prevalent for our generation to bring attention to significant subjects and events. Social media is a platform where most people get their information and news, so through social media, I can promote several community service projects. I believe firsthand photography can reliably convey recognition to future generations. By capturing and sharing images of marginalized communities or our club’s community service projects, I bring attention to these issues and inspire people to take the initiative. For instance, our club hosts a charity event called “A Night for the Homeless,” where we aim to raise awareness about the struggles of our community’s homeless population. As a Webmaster, I capture images of our club members sleeping outside in the high school courtyard in solidarity with their experiences to spread awareness of homelessness in our community. Not only is it my duty to apprehend powerful illustrations of our efforts in spreading recognition, but I am also responsible for promoting our event on social media to receive generous donations from our community to provid My desire to pursue higher e food during this event. Midway through my senior year, I have been able to obtain over 90 community service hours in Key Club. As an active member of my town, I have demonstrated many acts of service to my community and school through Key Club. Being part of Key Club has not only helped me become an active member of my community but has also taught me valuable lessons that have shaped my character, such as that communication is the key to spreading awareness.

My experience in Key Club has not been my only initiative in creating a diverse and integrated community. Recently, I had the privilege of serving as a student delegate, representing the Long Island delegation at the New York State (NYS) Assembly for the Angelo Del Toro Puerto Rican/Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute (PR/HYLI). Stepping into the hallowed chambers of the NYS Assembly Chamber, I received the profound opportunity to voice my opinions on NYS bills in front of hundreds of fellow student delegates and esteemed officials. At PR/HYLI, I engaged in impactful dialogues with community leaders, engaging in discussions delving into issues affecting Hispanic youth and communities. I got to hear speeches from high officials like Assemblymember Philip Ramos, whose words resonated deeply, saying: “What some people fear is exactly what’s happening in this room right now. Look around you. Is an assembly room full of Latinos… At some point, we need to stop begging for a seat at the table, we need to create and construct our own table.” This experience showed the power of my voice and the significance of my story. This newfound confidence and awareness are what I want to share with the world. Participating in PRHYLI has been instrumental in shaping my goals and reflecting what community involvement means to me.

My desire to pursue higher education and prepare for my future career has been a driving force for me. I am determined to use my voice and resources to advocate for Latino representation in nursing. With unwavering dedication, I will continue to strive for excellence in nursing and work towards creating a more inclusive healthcare system for the future generation of Latino nurses. I am aware of the challenges of nursing, but I am confident in my ability to overcome any obstacles that may strike me. I am honored to say that I will be attending New York University (NYU) to pursue a degree in nursing. At NYU, I plan on continuing my passion for making a lasting impact in my community. I will participate in activities that create a safe space for Latinos pursuing healthcare and become a mentor for students as they navigate NYU and take on the plethora of opportunities in nursing. The opportunity to gain knowledge in my areas of interest will allow me to combat these social issues, as well as pursue my niche. I’m excited to navigate this world and pursue what I love in my next endeavor.

As a resident of North Fork, I am dedicated to leveraging my community involvement experiences to navigate my journey toward my future goals. Having actively engaged in my community, I am committed to upholding and continuing the legacy of Anne MacKay, who worked to create a better environment for the LGBTQ+ community. Participating in various service projects has been instrumental in shaping my goals and reflecting the core values of North Fork Women.