By any definition, Maria Urbina is popular.
She recently completed her term as student body president, she was crowned Homecoming Queen and she was selected as one of two delegates from Nevada to attend the U.S. Senate Youth Program in Washington D.C.
There are few at Carson High School who don't know her name.
But she doesn't always fit in as well as it may seem.
"I never really realized that the majority of my friends were English-speaking until maybe the eighth-grade," she said. "It just became obvious in middle school because that's when everybody starts forming their groups."
Now Urbina, who moved to Carson City from Nicaragua with her family when she was 2, wants to help another student in a similar situation.
"I want some other student who doesn't feel like they're being reached out to as much to know that I understand," she said. "I understand what you're going through. I'm not from a high socioeconomic family, and I eat frijoles."
As her senior project, Urbina is hosting a Multicultural Benefit Event starting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the school to raise money for a scholarship to be presented to a fellow immigrant student.
Applicants must submit an essay describing how they preserve their culture while assimilating to American society.
It's a struggle with which Urbina, 17, is familiar.
"Now it's easier because I know myself," she said. "I'm very proud of being Nicaraguan. I speak Spanish fluently. I love the dancing, the music, the food.
"That doesn't mean that should stop me from embracing new traditions."
One of those traditions is college. Despite cultural pressures to live with her parents until marriage, Urbina plans on attending a university to pursue a degree in political science.
She wants to help someone else realize that dream as well.
"I'm such a firm believer in that no one gets to the top alone, because of what this community and the schools have done for me," she said. "My parents instilled in me my values, my morals, my faith and making me who I am. I feel like Carson City on the whole has been my extended American family.
"That's what I want to share with someone."
She is relying on donations from the multicultural event this evening to fund the scholarship.
"How cool would that be to just be able to give this person so much money," she said. "But even if we only raise $100, that's $100 more than they were going to have. That's what I keep telling myself."
The evening will feature a lecture on immigration policy as well as entertainment from different cultures and refreshments.
Applications may be picked up at Carson High School's guidance office and must be turned in by April 19.
Contact Teri Vance at email@example.com or at 881-1272.