By Alexandra Rampy
Columbia, Mo. (Oct. 16, 2006) — Missouri School of Journalism sophomore Carolina Escalera is one of 12 Hispanic youth leaders named winners of the second annual Lideres de Hoy National Essay Contest sponsored by Allstate Insurance Company and the National Council of La Raza.
Escalera, of Tallahassee, Fla., received a $5,000 award during a special reception for all winners at NCLR’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.
“It is such an honor to be named one of the winners,” Escalera said. “I had previously read about the grand-prize winner in Reader’s Digest, and his story is an incredible and inspiring story for Hispanic-Americans, so I was really excited for him, as well as the Hispanic community as a whole.”
Lideres de Hoy, or Today’s Leaders, spotlights the positive influence young Hispanic-Americans are exerting in their communities. Selection for the award was based upon students’ responses to an essay-style question, their commitment to their communities and for their extraordinary achievements. A panel of high-profile Hispanic leaders reviewed more than 300 essays for evidence of the students’ commitment to community, exemplary leadership and promise to continue involvement in community and civic affairs before selecting the 12 finalists.
Escalera used her essay to highlight her efforts to make the Hispanic community more visible at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
“Studies show that Hispanics have lower graduation rates and lower attendance rates at universities,” Escalera said. “Thus, in my essay, I talked about my role at Missouri and how I’m working to create change. My main passion is to encourage others that college can be a possibility for them. The opportunities are out there.”
Escalera has demonstrated her leadership ability and created waves of change since she first stepped onto campus. As founder and president of the Missouri chapter of National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Escalera hopes to increase the discussion about how journalists can effectively reach and cover the Hispanic community. Through her involvement as a board member with the Hispanic-American Leadership Organization and by working with University administrators, Escalera has helped put together Spanish-language recruitment materials for minorities and sponsored fundraising events for the Hispanic community. She also volunteers as an after-school mentor and twice weekly at the Centro Latino.
“Carolina is on her way to bigger and bigger things. She is the kind of student who sets goals and keeps going until they’re reached,” said Anna Romero, the chapter’s faculty adviser. “Over the years I’ve had many students say they would help start a local NAHJ chapter; Carolina is the only one who actually did it.”
Earlier this year, Escalera was awarded a $70,000 IIPP Fellowship Award from the Institute for International Public Policy and the United Negro College Fund Special Programs Corporation. The fellowship offers her a complete graduate education in international public policy, studying abroad opportunities, summer policy institutes, extensive language training, internships and career development.
“The Hispanic community is now the largest minority group in the United States,” Escalera said. “I’m really passionate about helping others, especially Hispanics, strive for what is possible beyond their previously held notions. I’m studying international relations because I want to use my background to aid others on a global scale. And, the journalism piece I find incredibly interesting because it’s about giving a voice to the unheard.”
Alexandra Rampy, a senior from Overland Park, Kan., is an advertising major and business minor. She has interned at Muller + Company, a full-service advertising agency in Kansas City, Mo., and been involved in Rockin’ Against Multiple Sclerosis, the MU Student Foundation, Adelante! and Alpha Phi Fraternity. Rampy plans to study strategic communication in graduate school and one day would like to found a non-profit advertising agency.
Updated: April 13, 2020