Straight-A Latina Club, Meet Diana Paneque!

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Every month, we talk to remarkable young Latinas from across the country to learn about the great work they’re doing both at school and in their communities.

Straight-A Latina of the Month: Diana Paneque, 17

From: Union City, New Jersey

Let’s start with your nationality! De donde eres?
I was born and raised in Cuba until I was 11 years old. Estoy orgullosa de llevar sangre cubana.

What school do you attend?
Im a senior at Union City High School, home of the soaring eagles.

Are you a straight-A student?
I am a straight-A student. My supportive parents always instilled in me the importance of an education; therefore, my grades exhibit my devotion to school. With this I do not mean my journey has been easy and I have encountered numerous obstacles along the way. But I havent let them hinder my academic career. My hard work and determination have taken me from learning English as a bilingual student to mastering the language and taking rigorous courses.

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What clubs are you involved in at school?
I am involved in LEO Club, an organization that focuses on helping the community and develops responsible members of society. As LEO Club’s President, I organized a fundraising project to collect money for visually-impaired children. Thanks to this club, I was also able to assist senior citizens in a nursing home and tutor kids at the local early childhood education center. I {also} love being a member of my school’s chapter of HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America), a national organization in which members share a common interest for medicine. I am currently serving as the member at large and have the opportunity to undertake projects such as organizing our next blood drive. Last but not least, I am an active member of Science Club, and part of the Social Studies, Spanish, Science, English and National Honor Societies.

How many hours of studying do you do, per week?
I am taking rigorous classes, which demand higher expectations and long evenings of completing assignments and studying. In total I usually spend about 25 hours studying per week. Many students may find this overwhelming, but it all depends on what is most effective for each individual. It is also important to designate breaks between study sessions to increase academic performance.

What advice do you have for other Latinas hoping to do well in school? What kinds of things can they do to get better grades if they’re struggling?
I strongly believe education is the only vehicle to reach success. I advise Latinas to strive to give their best effort, to seek knowledge and take advantage of every opportunity. My mother always says, “Anything is possible as long as we work hard enough.” I recommend that those Latinas who are struggling evaluate their priorities and dedicate extra-time to study. A strategy that has worked for me is identifying my learning style. I am an auditory and visual learner. Learning your particular style can help you absorb more information and take the most out of your educational experience.

What colleges are you planning to apply to?
I am excited to apply to in-state, out-of-state, liberal arts and research universities that will grant me the best educational experience. Some colleges I am applying to include: Brown University, University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers University and New Jersey City University.

Who are the Latinas you look up to and why?
I consider many Latinas to be major inspirations in my life. Ellen Ochoa, who is of Mexican descent, is a role model who inspires me not just because she is the worlds first Hispanic female astronaut and director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, but also because she is a remarkably talented woman who proved that all dreams are possible. She broke down barriers and stereotypes to make significant contributions and represent our Hispanic community in an admirable way. Dr. Antonia Novello could not be left out of my list. Despite the setbacks and a severe medical condition, this Puerto Rican woman did not let these challenges interfere with making her goals a reality. Ultimately, she became the first woman and the first Latina to become Surgeon General of the United States. I admire her because she did not stop there; instead, she used her position to address public health problems affecting young people. Both of these Latinas left a legacy in the world that empowers future generations to persevere to achieve their dreams.

Do you know a Straight-A Latina? Nominate her for our site by emailing [email protected]!

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About Author

Lee Hernandez is a writer, editor and executive producer. Lee has been the Deputy Editor of Latina Magazine; Editor of Latino Voices at the Pulitzer-Prize winning site The Huffington Post and a breaking news contributor to dozens of leading sites and magazines, including the best-in-class celebrity site; Cosmopolitan for Latinas magazine,, The Wrap, HollywoodLife, Celebuzz, The New York Daily News and Fox News Latino.