San Fernando Valley Sun/el Sol
DIY Girls celebrated its 10th Anniversary Gala at the Skirball Cultural Center on Sept. 29. The organization was founded by Assemblymember Luz Rivas, with a mission to inspire girls and women to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).
At the fundraising event, Yvett Merino, Academy Award® winning producer of Disney’s Academy Award® Film “Encanto” was honored with the Inspirational Leader Award along with Charise Castro Smith, co-director & co-writer of Disney’s Academy Award® Film “Encanto,” who was also presented with the Inspirational Leader Award.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power was given the Community Leader Award.
DIY members Montserrat Ramos and Fabiola Martinez, both seniors at San Fernando High School, presented the award to Merino.
Both students shared the positive impact the film had made on them. They shared that for the first time, they saw characters that looked like them and whose stories they could personally relate to.
“The character I connected with the most is Luisa – the strong sister. As the oldest daughter of immigrant parents, I have felt the pressure to be the “rock” of the family and meet certain expectations,” said Ramos. “Like Luisa says, ‘Pressure, like a drip, drip, drip that’ll never stop.’ Being able to relate to Luisa has made me feel seen. And I now realize that I am strong like her, but that doesn’t mean I have to carry every burden on my own.”
“Growing up I always felt I wasn’t talented enough, and felt out of place as I saw others around me with exceptional hobbies and talents,” said Rodriguez, reflecting on her experience watching “Encanto.” “As I grew up, I realized that I didn’t need to be a star musician or champion athlete.
“I understood that I am special in my own way and that I have unique talents and skills to contribute to this world. Watching ‘Encanto’ and seeing Mirabel learn to love herself even though she didn’t acquire a magical power really resonated with me. I found comfort in Mirabel’s journey, as the feelings she dealt with mirrored my own,” said Rodriguez.
DIY Girls partners with schools in the Northeast San Fernando Valley. Currently, women represent just 28% of overall employed scientists and engineers in the United States, of which only 5% are represented by women of color. For more information on DIY Girls, go to:https://www.diygirls.org/#home.