Yolani Cabrera is an inspiring success story. She began kindergarten not knowing a word of English. Since then the Huntington High School senior has worked exceptionally hard and accomplished so much. Now she wants to help others.
Ms. Cabrera’s final year of high school is off to a great start, even with the COVID-19 pandemic having an impact on every aspect of it.
The teenager said she’s looking forward to her senior year courses, including Economics with teacher James Graber and Spanish 5 Honors with Elizabeth Casazza. “I’m willing to explore my senior path with many different classes during the year, including Humanities and Participation in Government and a career internship in an ENL (English as a new language) class with teacher Mrs. [Eileen] González.”
The vibrant, happy and energetic senior is determined to make this year count and expand her horizons as she continues to grow as a student and person.
“I am currently doing two internships; one inside school and another outside,” Ms. Cabrera said. “I am working with Mrs. González to help all new high school students entering with English as their new language. I am with her everyday first period virtual. My main goal is to help every student to adapt to a new system of school. Many have trouble in their home country, so I decided to give my heart to also help them as once I had the chance to get help from my past teachers to dominate English in reading, writing and, of course, speaking.”
Ms. Cabrera is also interning with the not-for-profit organization, Friends of Huntington Station Latin Quarter and its founder, Xavier Palacios, a Huntington High School alum and current member of the school board.
“I am doing this with him to help the community get what it needs,” Ms. Cabrera said. “HSLQ helps the community keep education as the top priority for all youth and the undereducated. It works throughout the entire town.” She will be assisting the group with its annual toy drive and various events.
“Yolani’s willingness to help and ability to communicate directly with other students and residents of Huntington will help us with our endeavors in the community,” Mr. Palacios said. “We have always thought of our original motto created in 2010, ‘It’s Up To Us’ and Yovanni is a true example of this philosophy.”
Ms. Cabrera is a member of the high school’s New World Club, working alongside Mrs. González. “We work to have an intern in each ENL class to help students do their assignments, giving them a hint at how to do something if they have difficulties and making friendships with them,” she said. “It helps them to adapt to school and the school environment.”
The teenager said her “overall school career” is focused on helping “anyone who is in need. I was once a student who didn’t know English. Now it’s my turn to help, encourage and last, but not least, do my best with all.”
Ms. Cabrera said she’s considering Pace University and CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “My goal is to study political science after I graduate from high school,” she said.