(ABC 6 News) – Minnesota Governor Tim Walz’s office just announced appointments to the state’s Young Women’s Cabinet. One Rochester teen was appointed for the second year in a row: Kayley Hernandez-Ruiz. She is 18 years old and a senior at Mayo High School.
“I like to do a little bit of everything,” Hernandez-Ruiz said when asked about her busy schedule.
Kayley is already looking ahead. Not just for herself, but for women across the state. As a young women’s cabinet member, she represents women of color. The cabinet of 32 young women talk with lawmakers and testify at the capitol.
“We do a lot of advocating for the community as well as for ourselves,” Hernandez-Ruiz said.
“They have power that they can use through their voice,” said Gloria Perez, the president of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota.
Perez says these young women aren’t just gaining experience. They’re also educating people.
“They already have demonstrated leadership. And they have really creative, innovative, relevant solutions that we should just be listening to and support and shape,” she said.
Governor Walz said in a statement: “I am grateful for this diverse group of leaders and excited to see them pave the way for the next generation of Minnesotans to thrive.”
Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan added: “…the stories and ideas they share are powerful tools for action.”
Kayley wants to break down barriers and make sure every community has equal access to information.
“We have to take a couple extra steps to get where we want to be,” Hernandez-Ruiz said.
That’s why she also joined Rise for Youth, a partnership between Mayo Clinic and the Rochester branch of the NAACP. It gives underrepresented students access to careers in healthcare.
“It would be nice to see people that look like you when you go to places like a courtroom, or a hospital. For myself, for my family, for my community as well. I just like the feeling of helping others, and providing more opportunities to those around me,” she said.
Kayley says she eventually wants to be a registered nurse at Mayo Clinic.