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VALERIA GONZALEZ, 18

Valeria Gonzalez lives in Austin, Texas and works as a Youth Organizer for Youth Rise Texas (YRTX), a nonprofit organization that works with teens whose families have been impacted by incarceration and/or deportation. YRTX teaches teens about the systems of oppression that fuel the incarceration and deportation systems and helps them heal from resulting trauma and harm Gonzalez was born to a young, Latina single mother in Paramount, California. They did not have a stable home until Gonzalez was 11 years old. They lived in Chicago where gang related shootings occurred on a weekly basis and police were always around the corners. Later Gonzalez would learn that this was caused by the unequal opportunities given to black and brown people that forces them to resort to dangerous ways to make money. Gonzalez has made it her purpose to learn more about the role that race and gender play in the opportunities given to people.

Gonzalez believes that writing for the people means writing in an interesting and relatable way about subjects that affect the people. Her writing focuses on immigrants rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and women's health rights because these subjects, in one way or another, affect her and her community. Gonzalez knows that by writing about these topics, they will become much less taboo and eventually everyone will be able to speak openly and fix all of the broken systems that harm minority communities.

Gonzalez is an activist and speaks on issues that affect all kinds of minorities in Austin. She is currently taking a gap year.