Jose Cardenas: Good evening. I'm Jose Cardenas. City of Phoenix honors two students with outstanding young man and young woman of the year award. Parth Patel was outstanding young march the year. Genesis Miranda was outstanding young woman of the year. Joining me is Genesis Miranda and Tim Valencia, youth education manager for the city of Phoenix. Welcome. Let's start with you, Tim, just to give us the outline contours of the program itself.
Tim Valencia: The young man-young woman award is, this is the 27th annual, a partnership with the city of Phoenix, Rotary 100 and we want to recognize the achievements that young people, the things they have been able to achieve academically, do civic engagement, academic achievement and volunteerism.
Jose Cardenas: What is the process by which people are selected?
Tim Valencia: There's an application process that usually comes out in the fall. That application process you have to turn in an essay, talk about their achievements not only academically but volunteerism, civic engagement, how they are making change in the community. They have to have a letter of recommendation and their transcripts.
Jose Cardenas: Genesis, congratulations.
Genesis Miranda: Thank you.
Jose Cardenas: You're from which district?
Genesis Miranda: District 8.
Jose Cardenas: You were selected and it's based in part on the essay that you wrote. What did you emphasize in your essay?
Genesis Miranda: Passion.
Jose Cardenas: Passion for what?
Genesis Miranda: For my generation and finding this world.
Jose Cardenas: Your contributions to the community were part of what you discussed?
Genesis Miranda: Yes.
Jose Cardenas: Let's talk about what you've done.
Genesis Miranda: Okay.
Jose Cardenas: Which I understand is pretty impressive.
Genesis Miranda: I don't know. Well, I'm student body president of my school, I'm a junior. Normally it's a position for seniors. I'm in NHS.
Jose Cardenas: National honor society.
Genesis Miranda: Yes. I have been through valley teen leadership to be a leader, impact now. I do international baccalaureate, and I founded a club called you have a purpose.
Jose Cardenas: You're also very accomplished academically.
Genesis Miranda: Yes. Straight A student thank God.
Jose Cardenas: a very interesting life story. You came to this country from Mexico.
Genesis Miranda: Yes. I came at the age of six. I lived with my grandparents -- I was born, grew up in a little town. I moved here at the age of six to live with my parents.
Jose Cardenas: What kinds of experiences did you have? I assume you were adjusting to the English language.
Genesis Miranda: Definitely. The only thing I knew how to say was hi and door. I don't know why. I came, it was hard adjusting to live with my parents after living with my grandparents, living in a city after living in a street-less town.
Jose Cardenas: Tim, what's the significance of the award and what do you see in the people who are nominated, how many are we talking about?
Tim Valencia: We get hundreds of applications, up to 300 across the city in different council districts. We only recognize 16. It's very difficult to really dwindle down those 300 applications. So many individuals are doing amazing things, students changing things in their community, but we have to pick the best of the best. Genesis was one of the best of the best. She was our young woman of the year. Just because the achievements, academically like I said, the work in her school and her community, within her church. It's an opportunity to recognize them not only with a stipend, a scholarship that they can use at any college of their choice. She is looking at colleges across the nation between Harvard and Stanford. We want to recognize her accomplishments because she's an outstanding young woman in the city of Phoenix.
Jose Cardenas: When does the process start?
Tim Valencia: We start in the fall this. Coming year applications will be available October of 2013. We'll do some outreach, some spots on our Phoenix 11, channel within the city of Phoenix. We'll talk to classes, be a leader groups, in classrooms about the process. Again, it's that essay, letter of recommendation from a teacher. There are important people. Mentors that make a difference. We also want to recognize them. They are part of our process and recognize them at our events.
Jose Cardenas: Genesis, how was it you came to submit your application?
Genesis Miranda: One of my sponsors in student government, Linda Reid, a teacher for the ESL students at Trevor Brown High School. She moved from Fairfax. She said you're capable of it and I want you to apply. At first I said I don't think I'm going to make it. But she told me that she believed in me and that she wanted to see me fly. To continue shining my light. So I applied. Next thing I went back for the interview process and I'm standing with tears in my eyes seeing this giant check.
Jose Cardenas: the giant check is for --
Genesis Miranda: It was $2,000.
Jose Cardenas: And so we're talking giant in terms of the size.
Genesis Miranda: A giant check.
Jose Cardenas: But it's money that's important and will enable you to pursue a college education. What are you thinking of doing?
Genesis Miranda: I want to study international relations. Nothing is set in stone and pursue more economic or business point of view with that. So international trade.
Jose Cardenas: We have some pictures. This was at the awards ceremony?
Genesis Miranda: Yes. I had tears in my eyes and they were trying to take pictures of me.
Jose Cardenas: As Tim pointed out, part of the event is intended to discuss the people who are important and instrumental in your life in getting you to where you are. Talk about that.
Genesis Miranda: Miss Reid would be someone that if I was having a hard time at school, maybe thinking that I couldn't overcome the obstacles that were being thrown at me at school or anything she was always there for me. She was there give me the boost of self-esteem. She was always there. She is the one I go to for letters of recommendation. We would sit and she would say, breathe. She was that person for me. She helped me get to where I am today and I'm very, very thankful for her. There's also Michelle Garcia. She works at a beauty salon and to me she helps me see that I also had outer beauty, not just inner beauty, which is something I struggled with. She helped me get that out and be more confident. That was her role in my life. Two very important people out of the many.
Jose Cardenas: As I understand it, one of the things you talked about was a very tragic experience, the suicide of someone close to you.
Genesis Miranda: Yes. My sophomore year in high school someone committed suicide. From that I realized the change that I -- trying to work with me in this world. I started to have a purpose, to develop more leaders, to show people that they too are capable of accomplishing what they want, that they have a purpose, they need to find it and I wanted to help them live it out so I started that club so we wouldn't have any more of those at school.
Jose Cardenas: Tim, how long have you been with the program?
Tim Valencia: I'm very recent. I'm the newest youth and education manager. It's been in existence for many years. 27 years I have been part of the process, reading applications and other capacities within the city of Phoenix.
Jose Cardenas: I would think Genesis has to be one of the most accomplished individuals.
Tim Valencia: She is one of the most accomplished young women we have come across.
Jose Cardenas: Demographically, ultimate recipients reflect the diversity of the city.
Tim Valencia: Yes. We look at their accomplishments and based on that it reflects our city that's well diverse locally.
Jose Cardenas: So are there special outreach efforts in the Hispanic community?
Tim Valencia: We really focus on all our school districts within the city of Phoenix. It's open for everybody. We obviously target Phoenix union high school district, our largest urban school district with schools, is the district genesis is from. By outreach we provide outreach to all students across all our districts.
Jose Cardenas: Do you find there are any special measures to encourage people particularly the minority communities to come forward and share their accomplishments?
Tim Valencia: We really find that we try to target those counselors and teachers that have established rapports with individuals. Me coming in talking about young men, young women awards. Genesis said I don't think I can do that but we target those individuals that have rapport with those students, be a leader, youth leadership, counselors. They have the connection with the young women and men here that are already established in what they want to do in their careers and education. That's who we target because they have those relationships with those students already.
Jose Cardenas: Any words of advice for your classmates or people who are maybe following in your footsteps?
Genesis Miranda: I think that they just need to know they are capable of everything. They were made what purpose. They have to live it out. Shine their light, shine their lanterns, keep trying. If you aim for the moon at least you'll fall among the stars. Something like that.
Jose Cardenas: Thank you both for joining us, and again, congratulations.
Tim Valencia: Thank you.