Mountain View High School selected senior Aracely (Chely) Cifuentes to be its recipient of the Student Peace Award. Originally from Guatemala, Chely believes in the power of mentoring, tutoring, and motivating young people in the foster care system as a means of assuring survival. For the last two years she has volunteered for an after-school program at The Phillips School for Contemporary Education in Annandale, a non-profit organization dedicated to serving individuals with emotional and behavioral problems and their families through education and support.
Knowing that these children’s lives have been influenced by a variety of personal, family and environmental issues, Chely works to help these youths, aged 10 –17, overcome adversity and earn respect and acceptance. She also works with the older youth on life skills training, Metro use, and budgeting, as well as setting up and using bank accounts. Last summer, she advocated for additional Congressional funding for foster care youth over the age of 18.
Chely’s career goal is to become a social worker whose listening skills and natural encouragement will help ensure that all children have the opportunity to be part of a family and lead a successful life.