Latinx Heritage Month may be drawing to a close, but that’s no reason to stop celebrating. On Saturday, Oct. 12, LatinxEd will be hosting its second annual 20 Under 20 banquet, an event honoring 20 Latinx students from across the state who have established themselves as future change-makers. The event will last from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
LatinxEd is the only educational initiative in North Carolina that offers multi-year support to Latinx students and immigrant families that are seeking higher education opportunities. Last year, the organization launched the 20 Under 20 initiative, which focuses on elevating some of North Carolina's most exceptional Latinx students.
Verenisse Ponce-Soria, the program assistant and social media manager for LatinxEd, said that deciding who to select for the honor is a difficult task.
“We get so many amazing applications, it’s so hard to choose,” Ponce-Soria said. “All of these students are involved in a million different things and they’re so passionate. They do all these amazing things for their community and they tell us all about their identity journey, how being Latinx has impacted their life and how it has impacted their future and what they want to do with their future.”
Ponce-Soria also described the three pillars of Latinx 20 Under 20 — scholarship, leadership and community — and how each Listmaker embodies them in a different way.
“They have a variety of interests but I think something that unites all the Listmakers is their dedication to the Latinx community,” Ponce-Soria said. “And I think that’s in large part due to their identity as Latinx people — that’s just something that impacts them growing up.”
Kairy Bautista, a UNC student double majoring in economics and philosophy, is going to be honored at the event on Saturday. After she graduates in May, Bautista, who is a licensed life insurance agent, aims to start a financial consulting company in Charlotte before attending law school. She said that her Latina identity has been integral in developing her future plans.
“Being Latina means that I have the added responsibility of taking care of a community that has been exploited and generally mistreated,” Bautista said. “I am privileged in the way that, yes, I am Latina, but I’m also a U.S. citizen. I have different layers and I know I can use my privilege to (the Latinx community’s) advantage.”
Being named a Listmaker for LatinxEd’s 20 Under 20 is an honor that is not lost on Bautista.