UNC Pembroke recognizes a trio of student leaders — Tonya Juarez, Yamilkal “Yamil” Hernández Sánchez and Abril Lumbreras Rodriguez — in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.
Sanchez, a senior political science major, serves as student body vice president and a member of the Caribbean Student Union. A native of Bayamón, Puerto Rico, he plans to enroll in graduate school after graduation. He plans to work for a nonprofit that supports sustainable marine fisheries or write public policy that helps support the cause.
His family roots can be traced to the coastal city of Yabucoa.
“To me, being a Hispanic student on campus means being a part of a diverse group that supersedes race, religion and sexual orientation,” he said. “For many of us, we’ve had to be the first in our family for many things, to graduate high school, step foot on a college campus and get a driver’s license. Being Hispanic students means that we’re resourceful, determined and resilient.”
Juarez, a sophomore biology major with a biomedical emphasis, serves as chair of the Hispanic Heritage Committee, president of the Latin Student Union and an orientation leader. A native of Tarboro, N.C., Juarez is a first-generation student with plans to become a medical doctor in the U.S. Army.
Juarez’s parents are from Veracruz and Guerrero, Mexico.
“My Hispanic culture is very significant to me. It shapes who I am and influences my actions,” Juarez said. “Honesty, respect, love, courage, kindness and justice are traditional Hispanic values instilled in me by my mother from a young age. Because of these teachings, I’ve found who I am and want to share these values with everyone. The diversity of our Hispanic heritage is one of the reasons it is significant in my life. There are several kinds of families and cultures, each with its values.
Rodriguez, a junior social work major, lives in Washington, D.C. She is a member of the Hispanic Heritage Committee and Campus Association of Social Workers. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in social work.
Her parents are originally from Monterrey, Mexico. They moved to Minnesota when she was small and later to North Carolina.
“As a first-generation college student, I appreciate the culture and values that my parents instilled in me, and I am proud to be able to pass them on to my children,” Rodriguez said. “Being on a diverse campus as a Hispanic student means that I can connect and relate with other Hispanic students. Thanks to the diversity of UNCP, I have built long-lasting friendships with these students and continue to learn about and help my community.”