About 15O teenage Latinas from around Los Angeles met with Maria Echaveste, the highest-ranking Latino official in the White House, during a symposium Friday celebrating Latina History Day.
Echaveste, who advises President Clinton as director for public liaison, told the teenagers about her experiences growing up as a child of farm workers in a poor community.
"I figured out the only way I would ever leave home was an education," she told the gathering at the Biltmore Hotel. "The thing about an education is that no one can take it away from you. It's your power. It's your freedom."
The teenagers also participated in La Voz Chicana/Latina, a college outreach program at Lincoln High School.
"It was really inspiring," said Juanita Fuentes, 15, a freshman at Azusa High School. "[Echaveste] seems so strong. It made me feel like I could do anything."