A Note from Erika Madrigal Martinez, 2002 Girls Hope graduate
As a freshman in high school, I did not understand the impact that Girls Hope (GH) was going to have in my life. Looking back at the past ten years, I can honestly say that my enriching experience at GH propelled me to become the strong, confident, and independent woman that I am today. Most importantly, GH allowed me to build relationships with people that, to this day, have been there to encourage, support, and guide me throughout all of my endeavors. In other words, GH not only provided me with the tools to succeed as an individual, but it also gave me the opportunity to gain a second family.
I first learned about GH through the secretary at my church who was also a good friend of the family. She recommended that I apply to the program because she was aware of my parents’ desire to provide me with the best education despite the economic challenges that they faced. As soon as my parents became aware of what GH provided, they knew that it was the life-changing opportunity they had been praying for. I, on the other hand, was originally hesitant to leave home, but as soon as GH opened their doors to me, my apprehension disappeared, and success became my new reality.
During my time at GH, I was exposed to a myriad of educational, social, and career opportunities. For instance, GH provided me with a family-style and value-centered residential home, a scholarship to a private high school, tutoring, and continuous encouragement so that I could reach my academic potential. In addition, GH introduced me to a limitless world where everything is possible and instilled in me the idea that goals can be reached. As a result, I was able to attend Pepperdine University, study abroad in Argentina, intern in a congressional office, and participate in a nine-month, prestigious fellowship program in Washington, DC. Moreover, following my fellowship, I was hired by the United States Department of Justice, Office of Immigration Litigation. There I was able to learn extensively about immigration law and even had the opportunity to meet Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor. These, among other experiences, have allowed me to grow and have paved my way towards an even brighter future.
In addition, the people that run GH have been key contributors to the positive experience that I have had. The sponsors, staff, and house parents have, in many unique ways, shaped my life. They have served as a reliable support system in which I have not only found inspiration and encouragement, but also comfort and love. GH not only represents an educational opportunity, but also a life-long relationship that I truly cherish. I feel privileged to be part of such a great organization that has and continues to impact my life in wonderful ways.