23ABC continues to celebrate Hispanic Latino Heritage Month by highlighting those in the community who are working to make a difference. 23ABC's Bayne Froney introduces us to a mother and daughter who believe family traditions and hard work are the keys to giving back to the community.
Jackie Sala, a senior at Garces High School has lived in Bakersfield her whole life. This year she was one of 25 students who received a scholarship from the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for her dedication to the school and her community.
"Hispanics get overlooked a lot. iI feel like we are a major power in the U.S. We are just so strong and just an innovative group of people," said Sala. "That was just super awesome and it gave myself a lot of confidence about all of the stuff that I was doing, hoping that I was doing enough."
On top of being a good student, Sala plays tennis and is the associated student body president at Garces Memorial Gigh School. But that's just at school.
Since the pandemic she is now apart of the Latino COVID-19 Task Force, helping spread awareness where she works closely with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Jackie's mother, Sylvia Mendez-Sala, who is a court reporter, said she makes it her mission to keep their Latino culture alive in their household.
"The best preserver of our Latino culture has been the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. They do an amazing job. They bring families, Latinos, everyone, you don't have to be a Latino to go to their events," said Mendez-Sala. "My mom was really, it was important for her to pass on traditions, of our culture and food is definitely one of those."
Mendez-Sala grew up in Kern County and was raised to value her Latino culture, which she says taught her to work hard for what she wanted.
"I grew trying to achieve the American dream like everyone else did. My father thought I shouldn't be a lawyer. So I thought 'let me go to court reporting school.' I ended up really liking what I do and I ended up starting a business really young at age 21."
Now, over 30 years later, her daughter has not only learned the importance of culture and traditions but may even want to follow in her mother's footsteps.
"I think I want to pick between going into politics or becoming a lawyer."
And she's happy that her parents have immersed her and her sister in the Mexican-American culture and have kept traditions alive in their household.
"You kind of get to see the different perspectives of what people think it means to be Hispanic. It's just really nice that I was able to grow up in that environment and kind of appreciate my culture more."