Emilio Vicente is a UNC-Chapel Hill student and a mentor for SLI – North Carolina. He gained attention in the New York Times, Washington Post, HuffPost and other national media when he recently ran for Student Body President of UNC. He won the general election, but lost in the runoff. In this National Public Radio interview with Maria Hinojosa, Emilio states, “Before I became part of the Scholars Latino Initiative, which is a program that I went through, I was doing academically well, but I never felt, I never had a drive to exceed expectations. I realize that. Other students like myself, who had similar stories, were doing amazing work in the community, and I wanted to be one of those amazing students.”
The Washington Post reports that Emilio was brought into the United States from Guatemala when he was just 6 years old. He excelled in his studies in the United States, and was admitted into the prestigious University of North Carolina as an out-of-state student, despite that he was raised in Siler City, NC, only 35 minutes from UNC. Many news stories focused on Emilio’s self-identified status as “openly gay and undocumented,” while on-line posts by several people responding to the stories show just how far we need still to go as a society in the fight against prejudice, racism and homophobia.
We at SV-SLI have no doubt that Emilio is a role model to the North Carolina high school student that he mentors, because his words offer inspiration for us here in the Shenandoah Valley. Emilio states, “One thing that I’ve learned throughout this process, and even before running for student body president, is that you should take risks. It’s really scary at times to do something new, to do something different, but it’s also really rewarding when you don’t know what the end goal is.”
“Sabiduría” means “words of wisdom.” We thank Emilio for sharing his words with us!