Anyara was first drawn to HSTF because of dance. In 2017, she joined JEA’s Afro-Latin dance team, Ritmo en Acción (REA), and since then has trained hard in styles like salsa, bachata, cha-cha, and Afro. She has performed as part of a large group, has done duets, and has even performed solo. Now that takes guts.

But for her, it isn’t just about the technical part of her dance training. It’s also about the history behind the dance styles she is learning. Last year, she and one of her peers worked on an Afro-Cuban piece with their resident artist and dance programs coordinator. She and her partner learned about the beautiful African traditions that were infused into the movements, inspired by the African goddesses Oya and Oshun. This understanding gave her strength and confidence during performances. Reflecting on a performance last year at WilmerHale, she shared,“Waiting for the music to start felt like years, but as soon as it started to play it’s like the goddess Oya that I was supposed to portray just snapped into my body and all my nerves and anxiety just went away. I danced with no fear, with no worries, because I knew all those hours of Afro training had paid off.”

Anyara is passionate about dance, and she also manages to stay focused on her schoolwork and her future. Last summer, she earned an internship at WilmerHale. She is now in 12th grade and is preparing college applications alongside her HSTF mentor. She plans to major in sociology with a criminal justice minor, and for now her goal is to become a social worker, although she is also considering law. Anyara wants to make time for dance too, and plans to join a dance group at whatever college she attends. When asked about the role HSTF has played in her life, she says

“HSTF helped me break out of my shell, through dance, through the networking, and just by putting me on the spot in so many different ways to help me grow.” [/bg_collapse]