Metztli Carbajal is a junior at Southwest High School in San Diego, Calif. Metztli serves as class president, student body attorney general, peer juror at her local teen court, among other law or education-oriented leadership positions. She understands the power that comes with understanding your background and ancestry, which has helped her identify with her own Mestizo roots evident in her Aztec name. As a result, Metztli takes pride in defending ethnic studies and cultural education through a plethora of activities like Escuelita Aztlan, Ethnic Studies Now, and even drafting her own ethnic studies curriculum for disadvantaged youth in San Diego. As hate crimes continue to rise, Metztli believes cultural education is important to prioritize because it skews the students’ learning away from the Eurocentric narrative, and instead delves into the sociological, economic, historical and socio-emotional context of ethnic studies that creates more empathetic students. In her work, Metztli organized an Ethnic Studies Now campaign in her high school district, which further pushed the district to approve ethnic studies at all of their high school campuses. Metztli has also been a consistent student at Union del Barrios’s Escuelita Aztlan, where she engages in discussions about race and ethnicity from Chicano history. She drew inspiration from the campaign and Escuelita Aztlan to draft her own ethnic studies curriculum, which encompasses concepts like oppression, identity, discrimination and allyship. Outside of her cultural education awareness work, Metztli interns at a local immigration law firm and at UNA-USA as a Champion of Equality. Metztli hopes to continue her social justice work at the university level, before becoming an immigration attorney.
2021 – CALIFORNIA (SAN DIEGO REGION)