Melissa Hernandez, Lufkin High School junior, is taking on a leadership position as president of the state organization Pan American Student Forum (PASF). She was approached by Spanish teacher Guadalupe Lila with the opportunity.

“Melissa is an outstanding student,” Guadalupe Lila, LHS Spanish teacher said. “I have always found Melissa to be self-motivated, hardworking and intelligent.”

According to the organization’s bylaws on its website, The Pan American Student Forum of Texas is educational and cultural in its aim and purpose. It serves its members as a medium of exchange in the study and treatment of
subjects of mutual interest relating to the language, history, and background of all the countries included in the American group of nations and Spain.

“When we were contacted about the president position, I knew we needed someone with good communication skills someone that could take the initiative and could stay calm under pressure. Melissa has all of these qualities,” Lila said. “I’m sure Melissa will do great things as president of Pan American Student Forum.”

As president, Hernandez is in charge of a three-day statewide conference held in March 2024 in San Antonio.

Each year the PASF Board of Directors selects a theme and a country or countries from the Americas and Spain as the main topic of study. This year the country is Peru. Students will explore the theme and learn about the rich history to dream and plan for the future of Texas. At the contest, this could be accomplished through reading assignments, special projects, guest speakers, or audio-visual presentations.

Hernandez said that Lufkin is always well-represented at the conference.

“We have about 60 students in Spanish Club who might attend,” Hernandez said. “We can take two chapters if we raise enough money.”

As president, she’ll be running the contest, which in a way made her sad that she won’t be able to compete.

“This is the first time in Texas we’ve had a convention since Covid,” Hernandez said.

“We are thrilled for Melissa to serve as president on the Pan American Student Forum of Texas (PASF),” said Julie McManus, LHS principal. “She serves with leadership and compassion and manages her additional responsibilities with grace.”

Hernandez has participated in the Lufkin ISD Dual Language program her whole educational career and wants to continue on to Spanish 6.

“Dual Language is a good program,” she said. “I want to minor in Spanish and maybe major in sports photography.”

For now, she’ll focus her efforts on the upcoming convention. She said that Mrs. Lila inspires her to her best.

“She will say ‘You got this!'” she said. “The other person who inspires me is Coach Lamb. I used to play basketball, and he was so encouraging. All this work ethic I have, it’s Coach Lamb. He still supports me and is so humble.”