GSHS senior’s capstone project on equality recognized by Princeton University race relations program

Glenwood Springs High School senior Liah Ramirez.

Glenwood Springs High School senior and soon-to-be graduate Liah Ramirez has a passion for bringing attention to racial equality in her school and the broader community.

Her persistence in doing so has earned her recognition from Princeton University’s Princeton Prize in Race Relations program, which recently selected Ramirez to receive a Certificate of Accomplishment.

For her capstone project this year, Ramirez worked with organizations including the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition and Literacy Outreach to develop a Know Your Rights training for immigrant students and their families.

The idea behind the project is to empower students who have mixed immigration status families, or who face discrimination themselves, to take charge of improving their lives, Ramirez said.

“Hopefully, by me having this kind of recognition, it encourages other young people to be involved with more serious problems like racial equality,” she said. “My aim is to bring more focus to racial problems. It might not be everyone’s passion to bring justice and equality to those around them, but I believe I have a voice for those who are silenced down.” 

CIRC Mountain Regional Organizer Mateo Lozano mentored Ramirez in producing her capstone project. The Know Your Rights training was presented during an information night at GSHS.

Ramirez has been an active participant with AJUA (Association of Youth United in Action), a student group that includes students from Glenwood Springs, Roaring Fork and Basalt High schools.

“That was my main motivation for this project,” she said of the group that has been in existence since the plight of so-called Dreamers — immigrant students who arrived in the United States as young children with their undocumented parents — started to gain attention during Barack Obama’s first term as president.

Last fall, the group co-organized a rally outside GSHS along with CIRC, calling attention to the uncertainty for students who qualified under Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

That program has since been suspended by President Donald Trump, but the phase-out plan is being challenged in the courts.

Ramirez said she received many congratulations from classmates via social media when her recognition for the Princeton Prize was announced in the school newsletter.

“Because of the quarantine I wasn’t able to see anyone face-to-face,” she said of the current school closures and stay-at-home order related to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Princeton Prize in Race Relations recognizes and rewards high school students who, through their volunteer activities, “have undertaken significant efforts to advance racial equity and understanding in their schools or communities,” according to the program website.

Committees in 27 regions across the United States award one Princeton Prize, for which Ramirez was the runner-up in Colorado’s region. For her “notable work,” Ramirez was awarded the Certificate of Accomplishment.

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