Johnston High School - 6500 NW 100th St, Johnston, IA

The Black & White

Johnston High School - 6500 NW 100th St, Johnston, IA

The Black & White

Johnston High School - 6500 NW 100th St, Johnston, IA

The Black & White

1/1800 Gabriela Ferreira La Rota

From sophomores to seniors, one student was randomly selected to tell their story.

In addition to a packed school schedule, La Rota is advocating for inclusivity within the STEM community and connecting with her family in Brazil. 

La Rota’s passion for the sciences motivates her to be an active leader in many STEM based clubs and activities.La Rota joined robotics in middle school.

“At first I was really timid with all the stuff because it was really intimidating,” La Rota explained. 

Over time La Rota’s coach helped her with programming and she quickly became comfortable with that aspect of robotics.

“There’s a lot of opportunities to grow from [programming],” La Rota said. 

La Rota and her team doesn’t just focus on their own robotics but also teach and mentor the community through an outreach program. 

That passion is what helps her continue down her own science driven path and as a young girl in the STEM community she wants to make sure every girl has the same opportunity.

“Because I am Latina, it can be really hard to find my own place in the STEM field because I didn’t have any Latina girl mentors to look up to except for my mom. That made it harder for me.”

Nonetheless, La Rota stuck with robotics and now is able to be the mentor she always wanted.

“I want to be that own mentor to other girls, not just latinas, but other people that aren’t very represented,” La Rota expresses. 

To promote girls’ involvement in the STEM field, La Rota founded the Girls-in-Tech club. 

Because of my involvement in a girls only club, I feel like I had more space to grow and I think that was something every girl should be able to experience.

— La Rota

The Robotics club offers lessons in different communities around Des Moines.

“I think it’s really fun because I like working with the kids”.

La Rota doesn’t participate in robotics just for fun, it’s also setting her up for her future. 

“I want to go college and get a degree and work with people in the stem community,” La Rota said.

La Rota strives to take classes that will set her up for her future.      

“I’m taking four AP classes.”

La Rota has found a system to manage her busy schedule, “Just making to-do lists help,” La Rota Explained 

Another way La Rota likes to stay organized is to talk to her sister over the phone. 

“I call my sister and rant at her and figure it out from those phone calls.”

For La Rota, family is a very important part of her life. With a big extended family in Brazil and Colombia, she makes sure to stay connected with her family.

“I think I’m super close with my family, part of it has to do with the fact that I don’t have any other family in the states.”

There may be a gap between the two countries but La Rota doesn’t let that get in the way of her culture. She stays connected by speaking both Brazilian Portuguese and Spanish. Additionally, La Rota enjoys teaching people about her culture.

Although she lives in Iowa, La Rota obtains Dual Citizenship with Brazil.

“I myself am a Dual Citizen so I’m both American and Brazilian which means I’m gonna have to vote for Brazil since it’s mandatory”.

La Rota hopes to fulfill her duty of being a Brazil citizen by getting a better grasp on Brazilian politics to make her vote count when she’s old enough.

“When I turn 18 I’m required to vote, so it just means I have to go to the [international] office, usually in Chicago to register my vote.”

Along with representing her culture in any way she can, she visits Brazil frequently.

“I love the culture, I love the people too, it’s hard to explain but I think it’s just [that] people are a lot more friendlier. 

La Rota’s background is the foundation that drives her to represent her culture and better the future for girls in STEM. 

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About the Contributor
Cate Taylor
Cate Taylor, Staff Writer
Cate Taylor is a junior in her first year of newspaper. She is involved in swimming, golf, student council, and silver cord. In her free time she enjoys hanging out with friends, being outside, and listening to Kendrick Lamar. She also loves her dog Penny. 

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