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Northeast Magnet junior wins national award

Northeast Magnet junior wins national award

Northeast Magnet junior Jennifer BeltonJennifer Belton, a junior at Northeast Magnet High School, has won the competitive and prestigious Bertie Green Junior Travel Award sponsored by the Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica (the National Spanish Honor Society). She was one of the 18 students selected across the country.

Belton grew up in a bilingual family. Her mother is from Mexico and her father is also fluent in Spanish. From an early age, Belton has been exposed to the Spanish language and culture.

“The first time I traveled to Puebla, Mexico, I was 3 weeks old,” Belton said.

She had the opportunity to spend a whole school year in Puebla when she was in the 4th grade.

“I lived with my grandmother for a whole year in Mexico,” Belton said. “She enrolled me in school and after that, we would go visit every summer and I would go to school there for a whole month.”

When she was younger she wasn’t thrilled with spending half of her summer vacation in another school, but now she can see the value in that experience.

“I can see the benefits of having lived that experience, because I see other classmates in my Spanish class don't understand many things about the culture and I do,” Belton said.

Last year she joined the Spanish Honor Society as a sophomore. This year she began serving as the group's secretary, and is now the society's vice president. The honor society is where she learned about the Bertie Green Junior Travel Award.

“In one of the first meetings we had, they gave us information about scholarship opportunities for juniors and senior students,” aid Belton, “At the time I was the only junior at Northeast participating in the society, so I decided to apply."

The application process consisted of a 500-word essay in Spanish explaining why a student would like to travel to Costa Rica, a five-minute interview in Spanish and two letters of recommendation.

The itinerary of the trip to Costa Rica includes service projects like planting native trees that are vital to the ecosystem, painting and/or building a bus stop, and landscaping projects.

Although she is still not sure about her plans after high school, Belton is interested in the idea of becoming a missionary.

“I would like to be a full-time missionary after high school and continue to use my Spanish to help people in Latin American countries,” Belton said.