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PDS Portraits: Nashleen Salazar Rodriguez '19
PDS Portraits: Nashleen Salazar Rodriguez '19

"I came from a public school in Trenton to PDS in 9th Grade. I've been fortunate to be here. But I was pretty reserved at first, and it was challenging to be one of the few Hispanic students. I would hesitate to speak up in class, and undermined my own work.

I was one of six PDS students who attended the three-day NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference this fall. It allowed me to see who I could be, who I want to become. Now I'm determined to speak up and be a role model. Presenting my own writing in front of the School recently at events like Hispanic Heritage Month and Martin Luther King Day has been a big honor. I've found my voice. I think I'm my own toughest critic, but people gave me amazing feedback. I'm a Peer Group Leader, and it's been really rewarding to work with 9th graders all year as a mentor. Going from middle school to high school is tough, especially if you're coming to PDS from a public school and feel like an outsider."

Nashleen was recognized on Friday, May 24 at the PDS senior awards ceremony with the John Douglas Sacks-Wilner '80 Award. John Douglas Sacks-Wilner, Class of 1980, was a young man of great strength, character and grace of spirit. He had high standards for academic achievement, explored the intellectual world with enthusiasm and welcomed the challenge of demanding courses. This memorial award commemorates John's determination and dedication, and honors courage, resoluteness and resilience in surmounting obstacles to achieve one's goals.

The award citation reads: Nashleen is an academic star, a leader and valued voice to her peers, a role model to younger students and a second parent to her siblings. She's tenacious, gritty and perseverant as well as caring, calm and mature. She is a poised and radiant young woman with a deep personal sense of purpose who is ready to take on her next challenge. Sí, se puede—yes, you can—is her personal motto. She thinks about what is possible and is a young woman whom we are proud to call a Panther.