The Zonta Club of the Joliet Area Joliet awarded its 2019 Young Woman in Public Affairs (YWPA) scholarship to Bolingbrook High School senior Katherine Carranza Bahena last night for her achievements related to leadership, commitment to volunteerism, knowledge of Zonta International and the advocacy of its mission.
The goal of the Zonta International YWPA Award Program is to encourage more young women to participate in public affairs by recognizing a commitment to the volunteer sector, evidence of leadership activities and a dedication to the advancement of the status of women.
In addition to receiving the YWPA scholarship, Carranza Bahena was chosen as the Joliet Zonta candidate selected for consideration of the District YWPA scholarship.
Carranza Bahena plans to major in Political Science and study immigration and Latino communities’ social and political impact in America. She aspires to become a Congresswoman to grow the voice of Latinos in government.
Over the last four years of high School Carranza Bahena has dedicated herself to service in the Best Buddies Club. The club fosters friendships between students with intellectual and physical disabilities through after school activities. As a sophomore, Carranza Bahena was chosen to serve as a club officer before becoming Vice President and Friendship Walk Fundraising Manager her junior year. As fundraising manager, Carranza Bahena raised $1,500 in the last two years and started the initiative “Change for Change,” where members used decorated reused water bottles to collect change for donations. Carranza Bahena was honored with the Tommy Schumer Senior Leadership Award for her dedication to the club and for serving as a leader at the 2019 Lincoln Way Central Special Olympics.
Outside of school, Carranza Bahena has demonstrated her deep commitment to serving the community by participating as a volunteer with the Southwest Suburban Immigrant Project (SSIP), an organization that advocated for immigrants’ rights in Illinois’ southwest suburbs. As a volunteer for SSIP, Carranza Bahena canvassed neighborhoods, going door-to-door, to register Latino voters. Carranza Bahena assists with citizenship workshops as a translator and aids US residents in completing their applications for US citizenship. She volunteers weekly as an assistant teacher for citizenship classes. “Through my volunteer work at SSIP, I have reaffirmed my passion to help Latino and immigrant communities,” says Carranza Bahena.
“We are extremely proud to award the YWPA scholarship to Katherine,” said Zonta Club of Joliet President Beth Colvin. “This award further encourages women to pursue careers or seek leadership positions in public policy making, government and volunteer organizations and to further their education with these aims in view. We see a bright future for Katherine.”
Zonta International is a worldwide organization that has empowered women and girls through service and advocacy for 100 years. Zonta International promotes and strives to protect the human rights of all women and girls and reduce the incidences of violence against them. Since 1923, Zonta has provided more than US $40.9 million to empower women and expand their access to education, health care, economic opportunities and safe living conditions. Zonta’s nearly 1,200 clubs support local and regional initiatives in 63 countries worldwide.