By Nancy Gutierrez

Most high school seniors have a hard enough time filling out scholarship applications and meeting enrollment deadlines for themselves.

Not many would worry about the continuing education of other students, but for Daniela Rangel, a Senior at Lindsay High School, telling other students about the in's and outs of getting to college is equally important.

"I talked to people who have the same background that I have and told them that they can do it. They can go to school and continue their education," Daniela said.

As part of her senior project Daniela spoke to English as a Second Language (ESL) classes at LHS informing students, some from migrant families, about what they need to do before they graduate to help them get to college. Daniela talked to students in Rebecca Bayless' ESL class.

"I spoke to students about meeting with their counselors, the classes they need to take and the importance of having extracurricular activities," she said. "I also talked to them about financial aid opportunities. Money shouldn't be a reason for holding them back."

Daniela said in researching statistics on Hispanic college students for a research paper associated with her senior project she was surprised to find out that Hispanic students are the least likely to go to or graduate from college. She was also surprised that so many of the students she spoke to didn't already know the information she was telling them.

"I got a better response than I thought I would," she said. "I'm glad I had the opportunity to talk to them because apparently they didn't know."

Daniela said that a lack of support at home and lack of counseling is partly to blame for the low percentage of Hispanic college graduates. She said students themselves have to have the motivation to get there and take the initiative to ask about college applications and financial aid.

"I was motivated to go to college already," she said. "I found out about stuff on my own. I always asked questions and talked to Mrs. Armstrong. I used my resources and that is what they have to do. They have to take the initiative."

Daniela said she went to every summer program put on by the University of California system. In July Daniela will head to Los Angeles to attend UCLA and major in physiology. She hopes to attend medical school and become a doctor. Daniela was born in Michuacan, Mexico and came to the U.S. when she was four years old.

"I had to learn English when I came here so I know what they are going through being here," she said. "But I don't want them to use that as an excuse. There are students that are trying and are not letting language be a barrier. I feel good when I see them do well."

In addition to being accepted to UCLA Daniela's accomplishments include serving in the 2004 Orange Blossom Festival Court and receiving several awards and scholarships including top student awards in science and agriculture, the Air Force Math/Science Award, the Marine Corps Scholastic Excellence Award and the Herff-Jones Principal's Leadership Award, to name a few.

Daniela is the daughter of Jesus and Virginia Rangel. She has a younger brother and sister, Jesus and Adiana.

Daniela said this is not the extent of her communication with LHS students looking to go to college. She said she would like to return to the school to speak to students as she pursues her goal of becoming a doctor. She also said once she gets her degree she wants to practice medicine back in her hometown of Lindsay.

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