MANA Success Story

Yuliza Sanchez
“Hermanitas” (Little Sisters) Program

The road to success

Having personal and professional goals, but not seeing a path to their realization. Wanting more and better educational choices, but not knowing where to start the search. Needing to break down long-standing socio-economic and cultural barriers, but being alone in this struggle.

These were the life circumstances of Yuliza Sanchez, a young Latina student living in San Diego. As early as 6th grade, Yuliza was at a crossroads of life: poised to break out and pursue her potential. Or, stand down and let her potential remain dormant.

Enter MANA’s “Hermanitas” Youth Leadership Mentor Program -- a year-long, practical and inspirational “how-to” curriculum for Latinas, ages 12 to 18. Our Hermanitas program is designed to promote higher education, leadership development and peer support – all facilitated by a carefully selected one-to-one mentor.

Through the program, Yuliza found two “hermanas” – sisters in Martiza Leon and Araceli Guzman. Latinas with a similar life story who had achieved personal and professional goals and successes; who had successfully navigated the educational systems from middle school to a university degree; who broke down social, economic, cultural and professional barriers along the way. Yuliza was mentored by Martiza and Araceli for seven years and she thrived.

“For the first time since my arrival in the United States in 2004, I felt empowered and proud to be a Latina because I was surrounded by successful Latina women who encouraged us to strive for higher education,” commented Yuliza.

Yuliza learned how to develop and apply the necessary skills to continue beyond a high school diploma; to successfully apply and then be accepted to a 4-year university; to look within herself and find and grow the skills and confidence to realize her potential.

Now, Yuliza is a senior at Humboldt State University, pursuing a career in International Studies with a double minor in Spanish and German Studies She received the MANA Scholarship multiple times to help pay for housing and school expenses. “As a DACA student, I’m unable to receive loans or do work study, so receiving the scholarships was not only a tremendous help but also an encouragement,” says Yuliza.+-*

Yuliza Sanchez was changed by MANA’s “Hermanitas Youth Leadership Mentor Program. She was a MANA de San Diego intern the Summer of 2018, and keeps in touch with the Hermanitas “Tias” program. She now embodies its purpose. She is a MANA Estrella.