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Sofia Haro-Arguello – Cypress High School

Learn locally, think globally: A teen’s mission to make a difference

As a high school sophomore, Sofia Haro-Arguello was given what, for many, might’ve seemed a simple assignment: write about your family.

Upon seeing that the essay focused exclusively on Sofia and her mother, the teacher was somewhat skeptical. Surely there was more to tell, more people to talk about.

Mom, meanwhile, cried at the first line.

“She is my bullet-proof giant,” it read.

It’s in this way with words, informed by an even more worldly heart for someone so young, that Sofia strives to make a difference: one eloquent line—one human being—at a time.

Learning locally

Now a junior at Cypress High School in California, Sofia’s extracurricular calendar is as varied as it is jam-packed: National Honors Society, the UNICEF Club, Make-A-Wish, Spanish Club and the Kiwanis International Key Club. Upon graduation in June of next year, the 16-year-old hopes to attend UCLA, although USC and the University of California-Berkeley are also high on the wish list.

Sofia Haro-Arguello

After that, Sofia plans to pursue a career in law—a field she believes offers the clearest path towards her ultimate goal: lending heart and hand to those who need it most. “I feel very strongly about making a difference in people’s lives,” says Sofia, who is currently taking court-reporting at nearby Cypress College. “Sometimes people just need someone who believes in them.”

The same way, she notes, that so many of her own teachers and mentors—including mom Carol, a “giant” despite her diminutive height, and grandmother Maria, whom Sofia lovingly calls “Lila”— have believed in her.

An AP-focused honors student (a near-straight-A one at that), Sofia has already undertaken a professional internship with Hybrid Apparel in Cypress. And while she’s relished the resulting lessons in fashion, Sofia insists the true value of the experience runs much deeper.

“Now, when I go into a store, I don’t just see the clothing,” Sofia says. “I understand what it takes to get the clothes there.”

Thinking globally

Having fled war-torn Nicaragua as a small child, Sofia’s mother, Carolina Arguello, felt it was essential that her daughter be exposed to cultures and experiences outside of her own.

Today, Sofia’s passport—studded with stamps from Canada, Panama, Mexico, Japan, Peru, and China—stands as testament to her mother’s vision.

Sofia Haro-Arguello

But it was one trip in particular, to visit her beloved grandfather, which left perhaps the most indelible mark on the young Sofia.

“Seeing other ways of life is incredibly humbling,” she reflects. “Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, but people there still find ways to enjoy and celebrate life.”

For all the ambition and academic bona fides, tapping into that uniquely human joy is a big part of what drives Sofia. Be the destination a top-tier school or—what the old-soul teenager claims is the one stamp she’s determined to earn—a place where “celebrating life” is as fundamental as breathing.

“My goal is to visit Paris before I go to college,” Sofia says. “To experience the food, the people, the culture; it would be a dream come true.”

A mother’s wisdom

Two years ago, when she was still a freshman, Sofia entered a program to mentor a student from her old elementary school. Every week since, Sofia and her “little,” now in fourth grade, have met for an hour each Tuesday—30 minutes for homework, 30 minutes (often more) for activities and games.

“Being a mentor has been very fulfilling for me personally,” Sofia says. “I’m giving back to the school I attended, and it’s incredibly satisfying to have that continued connection.”

For Sofia, there’s a certain satisfaction—palpable and eminently personal—in working continuously with one individual; to dial one’s global outlook back to those connections that truly matter.

It’s a lesson that, wherever her dreams and journeys take her, will forever harken to one of her mother’s most beloved mantras—a line that, this time anyway, is a gift given from mother to daughter.

“My mom always says, ‘If you can’t see a dozen, just see one.’”

Read more about Sofia here in a recent Vanguard blog post: Giving back knows no age

Published on: January 4, 2018

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