MABTON - Getting on the bus headed for Ellensburg to the Washington State Migrant Council Student Leadership Program state conference, a reserved Rosa Aviles, 18, noticed one girl on the bus she thought was "mean."
Arriving in Ellensburg, Aviles found herself rooming with the girl she had stereotyped as "mean."
Ironically, stereotyping others was one of the topics discussed at the four-day conference held March 4-7 at Central Washington University.
"We learned about looking past the outside to who people really are and not stereotyping them, which is what I did when I first saw the girl who became my roommate," said Aviles.
After Aviles got to know the girl, she learned that she was actually a nice person and as Aviles put it, "she was really cool."
Breaking down barriers was one of the goals of the conference last week. Aviles said the theme "Trying to see the world from different eyes" was based on the idea of helping the high school students find themselves, their second face or what's on the inside.
"I see the world from my own perspective," said Aviles. "I actually learned how to see that other people have problems too. I learned to see people and looking out there I am not the only migrant with different problems."
Aviles said the first day of the conference the 70 teens from around the state learned how to get along with other people. She also learned how to set goals for herself.
"They showed us how to set goals for the future," said Aviles.
She is no stranger to the idea of goal setting and pushing herself. Aviles said it has been her goal to be among the top of her high school graduating class. This June she will be the valedictorian at Mabton High School. She has also had a goal for higher education. She wants to attend Gonzaga University, to which she has already been accepted.
A remaining goal for Aviles is to become an emergency flight nurse.
Aviles isn't sure how she was selected from her school to attend the conference, but she said, "I do a lot of stuff and people volunteer me for a lot of things."
A leader in her school, Aviles is active in the FFA program, has helped with the townhall meetings held in Mabton, works on community service projects and is a volunteer with the Mabton Fire Department.
She is also part of the Gate's Achiever program.
The migrant council conference also taught Aviles how to be a problem solver, which she said is important because many teens don't know how to solve their own problems.
"There's a lot of kids out there who commit suicide because they don't know how to solve their own problems," said Aviles. "At the conference, they showed us a process on how to analyze our problems."