Brower Youth Awards

Andrea Garza

Albuquerque, NM

Andrea was only thirteen years old when she founded Esperanza Unida, a group focused on social and environmental justice issues in Brownsville, Texas, where she grew up. The group began its political activism by protesting a proposed nuclear waste facility in the state, which was defeated after much lobbying and vocal opposition by several groups. Esperanza Unida then shifted its focus to doing presentations in schools, educating students about their Aztec roots, culture and traditions. The group also developed a “Know Your Rights” campaign to curb police abuse of immigrants coming across the border from Mexico. While Esperanza Unida is continuing in Brownsville, Andrea moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico to become a community organizer for Young Women United, a group started by and servicing young women of color. Andrea and the teenage girls lobbied their school board to allow comprehensive sex education in schools, rather than abstinence only, to decrease teen pregnancy and drop-out rates. Their efforts were a success: abstinence-only education was taught for K-6 graders, while the older students received something more realistic. “As a woman of color it’s really empowering for me to come here every day,” said Andrea. “Being an outlet and a mentor for these young women is my passion and what keeps me going.”

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