Youth leader, wrestler and community activist

Posted on January 30, 2018

Dayunara Guilleran

by Michelle Stecher

A female on the wrestling mat? That is Dayanara Guillen along with five of her girlfriends, paving the way to build Battle Mountain High School’s first female wrestling team. They have been training diligently alongside their male counterparts for the past few months, aiming to compete against other female athletes throughout Colorado. Dayanara has shown no shortage of grit and perseverance, drawing from the strength and focus she gained through four years of taekwondo. She may be an unexpected athlete in this genre, and I’d be honored to fill you in on how Dayana reached this point in her development.

I had the pleasure of meeting Dayanara through the Bright Future Foundation’s Buddy Mentors program seven years ago. At the wee age of seven years old, the softspoken Dayanara was on the waiting list for Buddy Mentors. With a a long list of interests that include science and playing outdoors, how could I resist? If you have come across the 40 Developmental Assets, heard of Protective Factors, or ever had the opportunity to work directly with young people, you know the importance of a positive adult role model in a young persons life to help increase their likelihood of flourishing. I was eager to fill that role as a trusted adult in her life, outside of her direct family.

Our meets ups have included playground sessions, picnics, crafting, homework, cooking, plenty of eating, and copious amounts of dreaming about our futures. Family is a value Dayanara holds dearly, and I am grateful to have grown close with her extended family. Dayanara’s father has been an enormous inspiration in her life. “My father has taught me how important it is to take risks, but to do it safely,” Dayanara reflects. “He has also taught me that I can push myself to accomplish goals that might be more traditionally for guys.” I can personally attest that her father holds very high standards, yet offers unconditional empathy; attributes that any parent should prioritize.

Dayanara began high school this year and has worked incredibly hard to find balance juggling a rigorous academic schedule with family and hobbies. “Wrestling has been a great distraction for me and helped me focus on something very positive,” she describes. Dayanara also loves the competitive team environment; you never know which of the girls will win each training match! Dayanara offers the following advice to incoming freshman, “Work very had in your coursework and to get involved with a sport or club- it is a great way to meet new people and expand your learning.”

Dayanara is a self-proclaimed happy and high-energy person who loves to make others smile. She is also quick to remind others not to judge a book by its cover- anyone might surprise you when you get to know them more deeply. As Janet Casson, Buddy Mentors Program Manager, quickly chimes in, “Dayanara is a motivated young lady who is eager to give back to the community. She inspires her peers by trying new things and is a huge inspiration to me.” Recently, we got to participate in the first local Happiness Sprinkling Project, organized by Casson, spreading kindness and cheer to random strangers with a goal of making them smile.
January was National Mentoring Month; an excellent opportunity to reflect on the mentors that have impacted me, as well as the mentoring roles I get to play. Thank you, Dayanara and Bright Future, for helping me realize how passionate I am about sharing my love of life with young people. If you have considered volunteering for a local mentoring program, please dip those toes in by contacting Bright Future Foundation, The Literacy Project, SOS Outreach, YouthPower365 or The Cycle Effect today.

Michelle Stecher is the executive director at the Eagle River Youth Coalition (ERYC).

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Eagle River Youth Coalition - Making Youth a Community Priority
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