You wouldn’t expect an ~11-year-old girl to deliver one of the most rousing speeches in the same month that both the Democratic and Republican national conventions took place, but it’s exactly what Jaqueline Zuno did. The KIPP Academy West student discussed why society is better when people work together. So she talked about what she knew.
“My mom – very young, alone, and pregnant with me – wanted a better future for her family,” she said. “So one cloudy morning, she set foot in the Rio Grande and began her journey. To say that she was afraid would not be true, because she was absolutely terrified. Shivering through the waters with no end in sight, she got pushed over by a wave. The wave knocked her down, and for a moment, she thought our lives were over. But remember, we are better together. She told me that a group of men in front of her saw her fall and came back. They helped her because they thought, ‘What if that woman was me? What if someone didn’t help me?’”
Jaqueline’s family applied for the KIPP school lottery five years in a row. They almost gave up. But going to this school, which prepares students from underserved communities for college, was too important. Eventually, Jaqueline got in, but the transition came with some growing pains. She tried to blend into the background, but her teachers had other plans for her. And she started flourishing in this environment. She became the first girl at her school to read a million words, and has already broken three-million word mark.
“Now, my goal is to become the first Latina presidente de los Estados Unidos,” she said. “And I know if I achieve my goal of becoming president, it will make my mom so proud. It will make la gente de Mexico proud, too. My focus would be education and immigration. I choose education, because it’s the only thing that can’t be taken away from you, because it’s in your heart. I want to focus on immigration because I want people to know that las manos that built this country are not all of one race. And the hands that lead this country now shouldn’t be either.”
She already has a more solid platform than Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Plus, she knows exactly how to make her jokes land. Check out her incredibly moving speech below: