Brissa Figueroa is a remarkable 12-year-old in many ways. She navigates multiple academic and social circles with ease. She is a proud self-proclaimed geek, a member of the robotics team, a cheerleader, and a member of Student Council.
But perhaps her most striking quality is her desire to change society and make it better for women.
“I want to help women feel more empowered,” Brissa said. “I want women to feel as though men aren’t the only ones who can make money in a household while women have to stay at home, take care of the children, and clean the house. We don’t have to do that.”
Brissa wants to attend UCLA and then Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
“I want to become a doctor,” Brissa said. “I need to study science and biology. In science I have a B, and I’m working towards getting an A.”
One way Brissa promotes female empowerment on her campus is by restoring the confidence of her female peers when they criticize themselves. Brissa knows how meaningful it is to be reassured because of her own experience in elementary school.
“Almost all of elementary school I used to get bullied because of my looks,” Brissa said. “I used to get really put down. Now, whenever a woman calls herself ugly, I go to them and say, ‘No, you’re beautiful, you have so much potential in this world. You don’t even know what you can do yet.’”
Brissa also demonstrates female empowerment as a Student Ambassador, a role typically held by an 8th grader because they have more experience at the school.
“We took a risk taking a 6th grader instead of an 8th grader who has been in middle school longer,” said Alex Daniels, the principal of DPACMS. “The reason why we chose Brissa is because she is someone who is ready as a 6th grader to take on this role.”
Student Ambassadors provide informational tours of the campus to school visitors and share their experience as a scholar.
“I give a scholar’s point of view, so I tell visitors about the work we are doing,” said Brissa.
Mr. Daniels already has a vision for how Brissa will help shape the future of the Student Ambassador program.
“As Brissa matures at the school and becomes a 7th grader, she will give more tours on her own, and she will also train another 6th grader,” Mr. Daniels said. “When she is in 8th grade, she’ll have 6th grade protégeés that will take her spot when she’s in high school.”
“When she goes to high school, we can have her come back to talk to our ambassadors, and help us get programming off the ground,” Mr. Daniels said. “She can also be someone we bring in to highlight DPAC: ‘Meet Brissa, she’s in high school, here are the honors and AP classes she is taking, and this is why our school works.’”
Brissa hopes to redefine what it means to be a successful woman by encouraging other girls to pursue their dreams even in a male dominated field.
“We can be whatever we want to be. We can be engineers, we can be mechanics, and we can be what society thinks only men can be. Women can also be those things, and we have to strive to show society that that’s what we can do.”