SVHS Students Win CTA Awards for Social Justice Essays

Sierra Vista High School students Naim Juarez, Jinhui Liu, and Cristian Paredes were recognized for their outstanding essays on social justice, embodying the principles of the legendary civil rights leaders. The California Teachers Association (CTA) awards, announced on May 6, 2024, celebrate students who demonstrate an understanding of the vision and guiding principles embraced by César E. Chávez and Dolores Huerta. The award criteria included principles of nonviolence, social justice for farmworkers, human and civil rights issues, and more. 

Naim Juarez, an 11th grader and recent immigrant from Mexico, has excelled academically in a short time. He is taking AP Biology and AP Chemistry while maintaining his Spanish fluency and advancing his English skills. Juarez is also the Vice-President of the Sierra Vista IDEAS Club, aimed at informing students about different issues related to immigration, as well as promoting empowerment and higher education for undocumented students and their allies. His winning essay centered on themes of wanting to become a doctor to help others, reflecting on how he is inspired by César Chávez and Dolores Huerta. 

“Cesar Chavez also encouraged all the farmworkers to feel proud of their language, culture, and traditions, while also embracing the diversity that surrounded them. By doing this, they would begin to accept their assets and free themselves from the chains that tried to bind them. As a doctor, I will welcome all people, and I will share with them their own unique beauty as I guide them into wellness. I will be able to help them with their physical illnesses, and perhaps even more important, I will be able to share with them the importance of honoring their languages, cultures, and traditions, as well as honoring those of other people. In this way, I will be able to assist them with their emotional health, as well. I thank Cesar Chavez for this awareness, too,” Juarez wrote in his winning essay. 

Jinhui Liu, a graduating senior who navigated the challenges of learning English during the pandemic, is now excelling taking regular classes. As President of the IDEAS Club, Liu helps other English learners and has won eight scholarships, including the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) Scholarship. His essay focused on learning and understanding different cultures to embrace diversity for connection, drawing inspiration from the legacy of Chávez and Huerta. His essay won the NABE Essay Writing Contest, competing nationally. Liu plans to attend UC San Diego to become a bilingual computer science teacher. 

“I enjoy the richness that the diversity of languages, cultures, and traditions the people of this country have to offer each other. I am a Senior now, and the words of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta still resonate with me. I want to become a software developer, but I have a lot of concerns. Since we have all come back together after the Pandemic separated us, I feel that many of us have fallen into the trap of constant connectivity, losing touch with the tangible world around us….This could be a very dangerous sign for all of us. Technology is like a double-edged sword that can both connect and isolate us from each other. My goal is to blend the beauties of technology and human communication and take away the dangers of too much online communication with the principles that Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta fought so hard to instill into the hearts and souls of the American people,” Liu wrote in his winning essay.

Cristian Paredes, also a graduating senior, is known for his creativity and dedication to helping others. He assists in ELD 2 classes and has won four scholarships. Paredes’ essay emphasized teamwork and treating people with kindness, mirroring the values of Chávez and Huerta. As a senior, he also passed the ELPAC exam this year. 

“Now that I am living in California again, I notice that people do not treat each other well…I do see more disrespectful people than I saw growing up on my little ranch. It makes me sometimes think I must return to my little ranch where values, culture, and people are important, and where people treat each other with kindness and respect. These are the main principles Cesar Chavez followed as he worked to liberate the farm workers in this country. He didn't fight with punches to help the farm workers. He didn’t use violence and he did not bully, intimidate, or threaten people. Instead, he fought with his words and with his heart. He created a movement that didn't hurt those not involved; he was just trying to make it known that the voices of immigrant farm workers needed to be heard,” Paredes wrote in his winning essay.

All three students were supported by the esteemed Sierra Vista High teacher Charlene  Fried. “I am just so proud of all three of them for taking the time to enter this contest. I love to honor our students," she said. Fried is known to be a renowned teacher for advocating for her students, and pushing them towards success.

CTA will feature the award winners in an upcoming issue of the California Educator magazine. Their winning essays will be published on the CTA website at In addition, each student received $550 and an award certificate.


CTA_2024: Sierra Vista CTA Essay Winners (from left to right) 11th Grader Naim Juarez, 12th Grader Jinhui Liu, and 12th Grader Cristian Paredes.