South senior Deisy Castro making change on the Young Women’s Cabinet of Minnesota

Erika Peterson

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Spencer Kimball

South senior Deisy Castro in an AVID class. “I noticed her advocacy and leadership from the very beginning,” said Erika Hernandez, mentor to Castro and leader of Jóvenes Latinas al Poder, a group that Castro is involved in. Photo: Spencer Kimball

On October 1, South senior Deisy Castro was appointed to the Young Women’s Cabinet, part of a joint initiative between the Governor’s Office and the Minnesota Women’s Foundation.

The Young Women’s Cabinet is a group of 24 young women from ages 16-25 dedicated to ensuring gender equity with government agendas in Minnesota. This group is a part of the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota, a “multi-year, multi-million-dollar investment to achieve equity in opportunities and to improve the lives of young women of color, American Indian young women, young women from Greater Minnesota, LGBTQ youth, and young women with disabilities,” according to the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota.

Castro was one of 10 women from across the state selected to fill open positions this year.

She found out about the opportunity from Erika Hernandez, a Youth Program Coordinator at Centro Tyrone Guzman, a nonprofit organization in South Minneapolis that serves to support Latines (a gender neutral term similar to Latinx) families with health, wellness and education. Hernandez is also the leader of Jóvenes Latinas al Poder, or YLP, a leadership group within Centro Tyrone Guzman “for girls and femme-identifying Latine youth who are focused on public education and advocacy,” as described by Hernandez.

Castro met Hernandez last winter when Hernandez began working at Centro. Castro was involved with YLP, as well as an entrepreneurship program there, and has gotten to know Hernandez through these programs. “I met Deisy when I started working here at Centro,” said Hernandez. “I remember leaving off the conversation, telling her that if she ever needed anything, that we’re here for her… I’m very happy that she actually did accept that, and she… asked us for additional support.”

Castro continued to build her relationship with Hernandez through working on other projects with her, including a workshop about misconceptions of the Latine community for Racial Justice Day at South. “I noticed her advocacy and her leadership from the very beginning,” said Hernandez.

Hernandez heard about the Cabinet position from the Women’s Foundation, a group that she has a close relationship with because they fund YLP, and thought that Deisy would be a good fit for the position. “It was a very last minute thing that we heard about, and Deisy…took the initiative, she was very interested in it, and that paid off.”

“[Hernandez] was really motivated for me to… apply for it, so I decided to do it,” Castro recounted. “So we worked on it, she had to send a letter of recommendation, and since she really knew who I was, she did a good job.” In addition to the letter of recommendation, Castro had to submit a resume, personal information, educational and community leadership experience, and personal statement about why she wanted this position and what she could bring to the cabinet.

Applications were reviewed by the Women’s Foundation and the Governor’s Office, and the process was not an easy one. “I heard there was a lot of people that applied for it, and I saw the list of the girls who got in, and they’re all college students,” Hernandez explained.

When Castro found out she was accepted, she was doubtful at first. “I was wondering if it was the right organization…and so I went to check and see if it was, and yeah, I was accepted. And I started screaming alone, because I was so excited, because I didn’t believe they were going to choose me.”

The cabinet meets biweekly on Wednesdays at the Saint Paul YWCA to discuss current issues that are relevant to young women. In recent meetings, they have discussed self beauty, as well as government systems and lawmaking. “I’m looking forward to… actually be able to do things and to get to know other girls who think the same way I do, and see how we can work together to… make change in society,” said Castro

Castro remains a leader in her community, with continued involvement in YLP and the Youth Social Entrepreneurship Program, as well as civic engagement in the community outside of these groups. “From Deisy’s involvement in both groups, I can tell you that she has had a leadership role,” Hernandez said. “She really does push herself, and she pushes her peers to think to the next level… And I think that can help in the long run, not only in this cabinet, but beyond.”