“My life has by no means been a smooth ride,” said Wichita native Luisa Salinas.
At the age of four, the Newman University freshman’s father passed away in a car crash. This left her with “a strange hole that no one else my age seemed to have.”
On top of that, as Salinas progressed through elementary school, she experienced severe bullying at the hands of her peers.
“Little did I know that these early life experiences would soon manifest into mental health issues that I would begin battling by the time I hit middle school,” Salinas said.
“Although these weren’t the most joyful moments of my adolescence, I am forever grateful for my rough beginning because it helped mold me into the resilient individual I am today,” she said. “Not to mention I have learned to celebrate every little success that comes my way because it demonstrates how far I have come from being that low self-esteemed girl I once was.”
Indeed, Salinas has come a long way. She recently received the Ascension Via Christi Volunteers, Partners in Caring Teen Scholarship in recognition of her volunteer work at the Wichita hospital.
“It means the world to me to be able to receive this generous scholarship because being rewarded by the facility I have volunteered countless hours at since my freshman year of high school is just an absolute honor,” she said. “Also, receiving this set in stone for me that my efforts at Ascension Via Christi will never go unappreciated.”
Taking her service to the next level
Now at Newman, Salinas continues to live out her commitment to volunteering as an ASC Scholar. ASC Scholar Award recipients are required to do 45 hours of volunteer service each semester with a not-for-profit.
“Having the honor of being named an ASC Scholar is incredibly meaningful to me because having my volunteer career be acknowledged by the global pillages of service that are the ASC sisters just re-instills in me that my help here on earth should last a lifetime,” she said.
Courtney Bell, who was Salinas’s college and career coordinator at Wichita High School South, wrote in her ASC Scholar letter of recommendation, “Luisa has many admirable traits, such as her selflessness, critical thinking skills, confidence, enthusiasm, and inquisitive nature. Although these traits make her a person of character, what makes Luisa so remarkable is that she is a positive force of nature when her life did not begin that way.”
Salinas grew up in a home with an abusive, alcoholic father, and after he died, her mother was left alone with three children.
“As a result,” Bell’s letter continued, “Luisa grew up fast and learned to act as a mature adult long before any child should be expected to do so. Despite the obstacles life has thrown at her, Luisa always finds a way around them and remains goal orientated. She is brave and optimistic with every new challenge she faces, not only succeeding in spite of these challenges but choosing to be inspired from them.”
Salinas currently studies biomedical science at Newman and plans to eventually attend medical school for pathology. Additionally, she hopes to get involved in Newman’s various organizations that suit her career and cultural interests like the Newman University Medical Professions Club and Multicultural Leadership Organization.
For Salinas, all the opportunities, life experiences and newfound passions she now possesses wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for her dedication to volunteering.
“The main reason why I am so passionate about service is that it allows me to directly engage with the communities that I want to support and impact in some way,” she said. “Whether it be in the medical field, in homeless shelters, or even completing simple civic duties like picking up trash, they all allow me to perform a service that holds near and dear to my heart.”
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Newman University is a Catholic University named for St. John Henry Newman and founded by the Adorers of the Blood of Christ for the purpose of empowering graduates to transform society.