Being an American of Hispanic descent means you have more than one culture, and often, more than one language.
Yadah grew up in a bilingual household. Her mother, Emilia, spoke only Spanish to her and older sister Jehnissi. But their father, Bobby, spoke mostly English. While exposure to both languages was helpful, Yadah felt her vocabulary in neither language was extensive.
She took English as a Second Language classes when she late-enrolled at Holland High. But after reading her essay on wanting to be a biochemist, 9th grade English teacher Jay Woods convinced her to take Advanced Placement and Honors classes to lay the foundation for reaching her goals.
Yadah, a member of Holland High School’s Class of 2013, also advanced her English and practiced servant leadership through LAUP’s (Latin Americans United For Progress) Adelante and Mas Adelante programs.
She was also active in the Alliance For Cultural and Ethnic Harmony, Habitat For Humanity, and participated in a Latino voter registration project. Yadah won a presidential award for volunteerism her senior year.
A Destination Education field trip to the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor made an impact.
“Somehow, I could see myself walking to classes there,” Yadah said.
Setting a goal to attend one of the nation’s premiere universities was like shooting for the stars. No one in Yadah’s family had ever been to college.
Yadah credits community support for getting her where she is today – a sophomore with a major in neuroscience and a minor in biochemistry at the University of Michigan.
She also credits her Hispanic heritage, which she said instills the qualities of being strong, friendly and giving.
“I hope Hispanic families encourage their children to follow their dreams,” Yadah said. “They will be leaders in the 21st Century.”