Gabriela Sanchez is working to make her mark outside Newton County after doing so in a number of areas within the school system in recent years.
Sanchez, 18, is a freshman at the University of Georgia and working toward becoming a pediatric speech therapist.
At UGA, she is active in the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association, which is an organization for pre-professionals studying communication sciences and disorders.
But during her time at Alcovy High School and the Newton College and Career Academy (NCCA), she tutored children who were learning to speak English, and was a leader in the school and state chapters of a student business organization.
While at Alcovy before her May 2022 graduation as salutatorian, Gabriela said she wanted to help children who are bilingual overcome speech difficulties.
She started her own free tutoring service, Amigo Unidos, to help those students for whom English was a second language. It eventually served about 10 students ranging in ages from 9 to 14.
“I think my purpose is to help children,” she said.
She even worked to overcome the challenges the pandemic forced on the school system by continuing to tutor students via the online Zoom platform, she said.
“The parents were ... just tremendously grateful,” she said.
Sanchez grew up with Spanish being the first language in her household and can relate to some of the difficulties of learning to speak two languages well.
Her mother fled Communist Cuba with her family as a child, while her father is a Mexican immigrant. Both have encouraged Sanchez to concentrate on her studies so she can have a bright future.
Sanchez was an active member of Future Business Leaders of America at NCCA. She rose in the organization’s ranks, serving as NCCA chapter president, a Georgia FBLA regional officer and on the statewide leadership team — the first NCCA student to hold such an office.
Attendees at Alcovy’s 2022 graduation ceremony will recall Sanchez’s loud greeting and enthusiastic speech during the ceremony’s salutatorian address.
She said FBLA allowed her to greatly improve her public speaking skills by requiring her and other state officers to give monologues in meetings.
Because of her grades, Sanchez was the recipient of numerous scholarships from area organizations — ranging from the Better Business Bureau’s 2022 Students of Integrity scholarship, to the Horace J. Johnson Jr. Beyond the Bar Scholarship offered by area attorney groups, and the Kimberley Chance Atkins Foundation (KCAF) Healthcare Scholarship.