Hello, my name is Lorena Tabera, I use pronouns she/her and am a youth advocate at The Epicenter. I am currently 22 years old and attend Hartnell College. Growing up in Salinas has definitely has had its ups and downs. I struggled a lot in public school from being bullied and having a learning disability. Not only was this difficult, but being overlooked and generalized made it even harder. To have someone in an academic setting that was patient, understanding and accepting seemed almost IMPOSSIBLE FOR ME. Being transferred to MTHS an ALT ed high school in Salinas was the best thing that ever happened to me. The teachers made me feel empowered, smart and confident. When I first attended MTHS I was so behind that I thought I wasn’t going to graduate on time. I graduated a year early and even received a scholarship for college. Having people who believed in me and empowered me made all the difference because of this I was motivated to do the same. I always knew that helping others to empower and educate themselves was something I wanted to do. Working at the epicenter has given me the platform to do so. I started working at the epicenter in late 2016 as just a tutor and in October of 2017, I was offered a position as youth staff. Working at the epicenter has taught me so much; from learning different resources we have and how to direct youth in need of them. I help youth determine pronouns, set up meetings with important allies and plan college tours. If you haven’t been to the epicenter I would really recommend going! There was instant love and support you feel when you walk into the center. The Epicenter and staff created a space for youth of all colors, gender, and sexual orientation to feel welcomed and safe; by being apart of something positive and beautiful is something that we wish to continue to do for our youth at The Epicenter.