BRIGHT FUTURES: Memorial senior Estrada tips hat to Martin Luther King Jr.

As Yubitza Estrada walks the halls of Port Arthur’s Memorial High School, she sees students of different races mingling together.

The students are from various backgrounds — African American, white, Hispanic, Vietnamese and more. Inside this school they are one and show Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of integrated schools is alive and well at Memorial High School.

Estrada, a senior, counts the civil rights leader as someone who inspired her in her life.

“I believe he fought for everyone’s rights,” Estrada said. “We have different races at Memorial thanks to him.”

Estrada, who is Hispanic, sees the work of MLK outside the school as well. As an employee at JC Penney, Estrada has three supervisors who are African American and another who is white. Her co-workers are Asian and white.

“People don’t see Martin Luther King in that (various races working together),” she said.

Estrada comes from a close-knit family that includes her twin sister, Yazmin, older brother, Eric, and mom, Alida Alonzo. After graduation, Estrada had planned to go to the University of Houston but has since decided to stay local and attend Lamar State College-Port Arthur to begin the basics.

While she hasn’t chosen a major, she is interested in criminal justice and hopes to become a detective, solving homicides.

She is fond of actress Mariska Hargitay’s role as Detective Olivia Benson. She portrays a strong, independent, intelligent female lead.

“Some day I want to be just like her, her roll as detective,” she said.

The reason Estrada chose to stay close to home is that she wants to continue helping her mother, Alida Alonzo, with her restaurant, Los Compadres. Estrada helps out at the restaurant in addition to the job at JC Penney.

The family moved to Texas from California when Estrada was in the third grade, and Estrada watched her mom work long hours to make a living for her children.

“I saw my mom work in refineries (before the restaurant) long hours for her children. I saw the hard work she did,” she said. “Everything I do is for my mom. She has been so strong. She works 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (at the restaurant) every night. She does it for us kids.”

E-mail: mary.meaux@panews.com

Twitter: MaryMeauxPANews

NOTE: This story is part of an ongoing series about local students.

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