Yulia Molina ’22 aspires to help her peers feel connected and part of a community, whether it’s on the court, in the classroom, or in their lives beyond St. Andrew’s.
For Molina, that’s what it means to be a leader – it’s a responsibility that allows her to help others learn about themselves and grow, and an opportunity for her to grow alongside them.
“I feel like everyone has a purpose in life, and I know my purpose is to help people,” she said. “When I help people, I feel happier.”
Since arriving at St. Andrew’s in eighth grade, Molina has tapped into nearly every aspect of school life, from Chess Club, Hearts 4 Haiti, and Bokamoso Club, to the Chaplain’s Advisory Board, Student Ambassadors, and the Prom Committee.
This year in particular, opportunities to mentor underclassmen have been especially rewarding. Molina has supported ninth-graders as they transition to the Upper School as a Peer Leader, guided ninth-grade Service Learning students through the process of preparing meals for people experiencing food insecure as a Campus Kitchen leader, and strengthened camaraderie on the varsity volleyball team as the captain of a largely underclassmen team.
“Going into high school is a really big deal, especially socially. It’s hard if you don’t have a role model to look up to,” she said. “As the captain of the volleyball team, I knew that was my role. I wanted to show them that I’m here for you if you need me.”
Molina said she remembers feeling different from other students when she first arrived, having come from a public school, and how important it was to get involved in student life through clubs and activities. As President of the Latinx Club, Molina has helped connect students who may feel different because of their identity as Hispanic and Latinx, and says the group feels like a family.
“Yulia’s authenticity and ability to make members of our school community feel a sense of belonging is a model for all,” said Lorraine Martinez Hanley, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Belonging and the sponsor of the Latinx Club. “Her self-awareness helps her navigate not only the importance of her own sense of belonging, it also inspires her to advocate for others.”
If students don’t know Molina from these activities, they certainly know her from the Student Center Café, where she is a manager, or as one of the twelfth graders who, during hybrid learning last year, organized lunchtime ball games on Izzo Quad, a rare in-person activity that was both fun and safe for students, and even some faculty and staff, during the pandemic.
“She is a strong ambassador for the Upper School in welcoming all students, whether it’s on the volleyball team, or in her leadership roles, or in the hallways,” said Ginger Cobb, Head of the Upper School. “She is always with her peers, as well as ninth graders, tenth graders, and eleventh graders.”
In the fall, Molina is headed to Towson University, where she will study psychology and criminal justice with the goal of becoming a lawyer.