Raised in a culturally diverse family, Mena understood from an early age that with mutual respect and a commitment to justice, people could transcend profound differences to make meaningful connections with each other. This has been the guiding principle of her life.
At Poly Prep High School, Mena achieved academic success while also dedicating herself to community service and athletics. She is a National Achievement Scholar, an AP Scholar, a National Merit Commended Scholar, a four-year honor student, a member of the Cum Laude National Honor Society and a winner of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Award in Writing. She was also the winner of her school’s Brown University Book Award for English and the Spanish Language award. In addition, Mena is a dedicated varsity volleyball player and a member of a nationally competitive club team during the off-season.
In order to share her academic success with others, Mena became a peer tutor for younger students in English and Spanish. She also volunteered for two summers as an intern at the Legal Aid Society, a position usually reserved for college or law students, which earned her a community service award from her high school. During this internship she was responsible for working on cases involving domestic violence and disability benefits for low-income clients from many different backgrounds in New York City. This experience confirmed for her that one person’s efforts could impact other’s life in significant ways.
During her junior year, Mena represented her school at the Congressional Youth Leadership Conference in Washington D.C., where she discussed law, politics and government with students from all over the country. That same year she traveled to India, where she lived with a family as part of a cultural exchange program. Although the students she encountered during these travels led vastly different lives, like her they aspired to prosper and make contributions to the betterment of our world. For Mena, these experiences highlighted the more noble aspirations of her generation, revealing the potential for a world guided by the principles she had learned as a child.
Mena began life knowing that there were certain inherent connections between all people. Now as she moves forward, she plans to learn other languages and work in the field of international relations so that she can contribute her sense of optimism and fraternity to the global community.