Isabel Salazar, a fifth grader at Temple Elementary, was chosen to join the People to People Leadership Forum. Isabel, along with fellow students from around the world, will take part in witnessing the presidential swearing in ceremony and hear the inaugural address on the National Mall on Jan. 20.
Isabel's mother, Temple resident Natalia Morales, said she is proud of her daughter, who will be serving as a "student ambassador" for the global program.
"My daughter and I are very excited that she has this opportunity to go to Washington, meet new people and attend the Presidential Inauguration Ball, her first, of course," Morales said. "I hope that we as a community can come together to recognize her and show her support from her hometown, since she wants to do many things for her community through these special programs that she is in."
Isabel is in Geary Durre's fifth grade class at Temple Elementary, where she participates in a long list of academic clubs and civic organizations in the school. This year, Isabel is part of the Science Club, Honors Chorus, News Crew and Junior Beta Club. Her hope is to attend the college of her dreams, Yale University.
Isabel and her fellow tourists will also visit the Smithsonian museum and the International Spy Museum. They will also learn the history of many presidents. Isabel said she loves history and is "very excited" to be part of this program.
Throughout the course of the program in Washington, D.C., the group will learn about leadership and how iconic leaders throughout history have handled world events. Various hands-on activities, relevant professional speakers, small-group workshops and visits to significant memorials, museums and monuments will provide Isabel with insights on the importance and essential need for informed and inspired world leaders.
"I'm extremely excited to meet many new people, and being able to walk back in the history of many presidents," Isabel said.
The People to People Leadership Forum offers students a unique blend of specialized educational, leadership and cultural exposure through a variety of programs. While in the capital, Isabel said she looks forward to creating lifelong memories and forming lasting friendships with other leadership ambassadors from around the world.
Morales, who raised Isabel as a single mother and was just recently married, said she will continue to support her daughter as much as possible.
"I hope to continue to give her the confidence that she needs to make her dreams successful," Morales said. "I work a lot of hours here lately, and she's always got her homework done and has been such a good role model to her friends and other students."
Isabel was nominated by a former teacher for the program and had to complete an extensive application to be selected.
"We are very blessed and happy and proud that she was picked," Morales said. "We worked on it all summer, practically."
The girl's mother said she has "taken control of her life" and is handling it pretty well.
"She is doing exactly what she wants," Morales said. "I'm just really proud of her, what can I say?"
Isabel will board a plane in mid-January and plans to return to Temple on Jan. 24.