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East L.A. student up for 'Best Youth'

July 14, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Madeline Salazar, 17, has already won state and local honors, but she is now up for a national "Best Youth" award.Salazar's dream is to serve her community. With the help of the Salesian Boys and Girls Club in East Los Angeles, she will be heading from Roosevelt High School to MIT in the fall. She is going to be studying mechanical engineering.

"My goal is to become a mechanical engineer ... with an emphasis in biology so that I can help in the development of prosthetics for developing countries and low income communities," said Salazar.

Salazar says her work with the kids at the Boys and Girls Club is rewarding.

"I feel like I have been blessed with people who are willing to help me and that inspires me to help others," said Salazar. "So I think, with MIT, it's just that the aid that I need to get to where I want to go."

Salazar is the Youth of the Year for the Salesian Boys and Girls Club, and for the state of California. She is competing for regional honors on Thursday, and if she wins, she'll be off to Washington D.C. for the national competition. Nearly $30,000 in scholarship money is at stake.

Salazar says her role model is Supreme Court nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Salazar says she is inspired by the nominee's life story.

"I keep reading about her everyday because ... someone like her proves to me that we can do it , that anyone can do it," said Salazar.

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