CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) "You don't need money to help people,” that's the advice from a brave 18-year-old in Cedar Rapids.
Reyna Hernandez Martinez spends her last class period of the school day teaching others how to speak English at Washington High School.
"I want to show them even if you're scared to speak English, you can try. And even if you don't know how to communicate you can use your phone or your hands."
Reyna graduated from this English Language Learners class herself. She came to Iowa, from El Salvador, exactly three years ago.
"I tried to challenge myself and get off of ELL and I think it worked, I started A.P. classes."
And she's thrived; a 4.0 student set to graduate in the top three percent of her senior class. Reyna's most proud of her achievement in A.P. Calculus.
"I like the math problems and I like to think, sometimes it's hard with the language variation but there are a lot of resources to overcome these problems."
Skills she'll use in the future. Reyna recently received a full-ride scholarship to Iowa State University, and plans to major in computer engineering. A career path that came as a calling from her childhood.
"Like my country El Salvador there are many people that don't even have a phone so I want to find a way with technology to help those countries."
"I feel very proud to be Latina and have an accent. I want to show immigrants do not come here to steal jobs or to hurt American system. I want to help to improve the American system."
Reyna says that's possible by helping others. Making newcomers feel comfortable learning so they can reach their potential.
Reyna is also a leader on Washington High School's robotics team.