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Teaching Fellow Kevin Manzanarez Named to LatinxEd’s 20 Under 20: Class of 2021

Kevin Manzanarez, an N.C. Teaching Fellow and NC State undergraduate student, has been named one of LatinxEd’s 20 Under 20. The honor is given every year to a cohort of youth leaders in North Carolina who are playing a role in advancing their Latinx community through education.

Manzanarez’s passion for advocacy began while attending high school in Siler City—and it’s where, once he earns his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Education, he wants to make a difference as a teacher. 

“This way, I can come back to my former high school, Jordan-Matthews High School, to be the voice of the students who go unheard most of the time, as well as to provide them with a better chance to achieve a successful future for themselves,” Manzanarez said.

In high school, Manzanarez’s interest in education led him to attend the NC State College of Education’s Leadership for Future Teachers (LIFT), where he was excited to discover other students who shared his vision and passion. Manzanarez said the program, which is aimed at students of color and bilingual students interested in teaching, provided him the push he needed.

“LIFT helped me finalize my decision to become a teacher,” Manzanarez said. “During my time in LIFT, I found out about what it meant to be an educator, and the different resources we would have as NC State students.” 

Manzanarez has continued to engage in advocacy for others while at NC State — he is a part of Students Advocating for Youth Village — and he’s also taken advantage of the learning opportunities available to him as a Teaching Fellow at NC State.

“I have been able to attend different forums that cover a variety of topics, such as racial inequalities, as well as listen to guest speakers like the North Carolina Principal of the Year; experiences which are helping us develop into leaders of tomorrow,” he said. “It has been a very fun and rewarding experience.”

It’s also an experience Manzanarez wants to use to make an impact. 

“I believe that teachers have a huge impact on the social, emotional and academic aspects of students,” Manzanarez said. “Teachers help individuals grow and develop into strong leaders, and also help them grow into the person they will be in the near future. Teachers know that students are the future of the nation. So the future development of the nation is in the hands of teachers.”

While Manzanarez is looking forward to teaching, he also wants to use his talents to eventually bring about change on an administrative level.

“My long-term goal is to earn my master’s in school administration, to become one of my school district’s first Latinx principals to represent my community in statewide opportunities,”  Manzanarez said. 

Until then, Manzanarez will have a number of leadership opportunities to engage in through LatinxEd, including workshops, community events and an Instagram Live. 

“Being chosen as a LatinxEd 20 Under 20 leader means absolutely the world to me, and now the rest of the world will be able to see what I have to offer for our community,” Manzanarez said.