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ECHS student takes commitment to law and local government to national stage

ECHS student takes commitment to law and local government to national stage
Christian Aleman-Rodriguez

Del Valle Early College High School senior Julisa Morones Luna is leading the way for Del Valle ISD students seeking to be involved in local government.

She’s involved in government organizations, including the Austin Youth Council, the National League of Cities, and the International City/County Management Association. At the high school, she’s active in Legal Cardinals, the student group participating in local and state law competitions.

In fact, over the Thanksgiving break, she traveled to Atlanta for a National League of Cities summit, where she organized and participated in a panel on public safety. She sat on the panel with Arizona and North Carolina students and local leaders from Mississippi and California.

“I got to speak with the mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, Mayor Lumumba, and ask him questions about what we could do as the new, younger generation getting involved,” Julisa said. “He told us about his city’s water problem and how we can actually make a difference.”

Even though she just got back from Atlanta a few weeks ago, Julisa is planning to attend an upcoming NLC summit early next year in Washington, D.C., and host another panel. This time around, she traveled with a group of students from the Austin Youth Council, which sponsored the trip for her. She represents DVISD in the AYC, a group of area high school students that meets monthly with City staff to discuss issues concerning Austin youth. She’s an elected member of the Council and the only student from DVISD that forms part of the group.

Her interest in government and law has propelled her participation in local groups, Legal Cardinals, DVECHS, and led her to complete mediation certifications and near the completion of a paralegal certification that will allow her to work at a law office upon graduation.

“It’s my passion for government and law. I want to become a criminal lawyer. My grandma would always tell me before she passed me to pursue my dreams. And that's what I've been doing,” she said. From a young age, her father has also encouraged her to become a lawyer because she’s good at arguing her point.

“My dad would always tell me, ‘You should be a lawyer since your opinion is always right, and you always want to prove your opinion,” Julisa recalled with a smile. “So every year since freshman year, I've been competing with the legal Cardinals at the YMCA. It has helped me develop my passion and get experience.”

Amid her heavy involvement in student and city groups, she’s been applying to colleges and scholarships, hoping to be the first in her family to attend college and earn a bachelor’s degree. She’s well underway on that goal, as she’s been accepted into 11 colleges already and is waiting to hear back from several others. Although she hasn’t committed to a college just yet, wherever she goes, she plans to study criminology and political science to become a lawyer.

Perseverance has played a significant role in getting to this point in her educational career, and she encourages others to do the same with this advice: “I would advise students to follow their dreams no matter what. Even if they go through something, always follow their dreams because a good outcome will come,” Julisa said.

Julisa taking a photo with her panel at NLC summit
Julisa taking the podium at NLC summit
Julisa with NLC Program Manager Sharie Wood
Julisa speaking on panel at NLC summit
Julisa with another NLC attendee at Atlanta summit
Julisa on panel at National League of Cities shaking Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi's hand
Julisa at NLC summit in Atlanta