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State Honoree

Nibia Maria Pastrana Santiago

Puerto Rico

Nibia Maria Pastrana Santiago, 15, of Aguas Buenas, P.R., a member of the Caribe Girl Scout Council in San Juan and a junior at Colego Bautista de Caguas in Caguas, refurbished a local community center, where she gives dance lessons and organizes self-improvement workshops for young, disadvantaged girls. Motivated by a desire to volunteer in her community, Nibia decided to share her time and talents with young girls living in a disadvantaged neighborhood. “I really wanted to interact with these girls because in this community there exists a high incidence of drugs and teen pregnancy,” Nibia said. After obtaining permission for her project, Nibia organized volunteers to clean and remodel the community center before beginning her weekend dance classes. As the program grew, Nibia recruited other volunteers to teach art, nutrition and modeling. A field trip to a state forest gave the girls a chance to interact with nature. After Nibia’s students presented a talent show, they were invited to dance in other community events. “I would tell others that my experience was unforgettable,” Nibia said. “Every instant is an opportunity to change someone’s life with love.”