Updated: Oct 27, 2022
Sept. 23, 2022, Arely Molina was crowned Homecoming Queen. Molina is a Senior at Morristown West High School. Molina has a loving family of five, which includes: Her parents, Evangelina Castillo and Jose Luis Molina, her older brother, Alex, her younger sister, Evelyn, and her Jack Russel dog, Coby.
Molina loves to draw and paint, trying new makeup looks, designing clothes, doing nails, and making her own jewelry. She shares, “Jewelry is something I could do for the rest of my life. I feel like my jewelry is something that I hold very close because it is all handmade and designed by me.”
Molina shares her experience of being born and raised in East Tennessee by immigrant parents, “The first language I learned was Spanish; However, I was surrounded by many English speaking friends, which made it an easier language for me to understand and speak. Nonetheless, being Hispanic has had a major impact on my life. Growing up, at least one friend per school year told me that their parents got deported. I would panic anytime a police officer was on the road while my parents were driving in fear of the same happening to them. In school, I would hear racial remarks about Hispanics and little to no repercussions were made. I felt like people shouldn’t get away with things like this, especially not in schools, which is why I am a big advocate for chance. My dad has always taught me to work as hard as I can, because the best results will come after. He is the hardest worker I know, working over ten hour shifts every day in the job he has maintained for over 22 years. At times he would arrive home with injuries that required medical attention, regardless, he wakes up every morning and goes right back to work. If there is one person in this world that I look up to the most, it would have to be my mom. She has always strived to push me and my sister to do the best in school. Initially, my mom was not on board with the idea of leaving everything she had worked for behind in Mexico, but she made the executive decision to move to the U.S. My mom is my hero, because she came to the United States for our family knowing that she had to say goodbye to her parents and siblings. My mom gave up her dreams in order for me to chase mine, and is the reason I have come as far as I have. She has shown me how to be selfless and to always speak up and take action when something isn’t right. "
"My mom helps me realize that sometimes sacrifice is needed, even if it does not benefit oneself."
Molina made it her goal to get at least one colored person on the Senior homecoming court, “Ever since I could remember, it was no surprise to see who had won Homecoming Queen. After being able to vote for the first time my Freshman year, there were no colored Seniors on the ballot. The same continued for my Sophomore year and Junior year. Homecoming felt repetitive and my friends stopped caring about it, even though it was kind of a big deal. I felt a big weight on my chest when I heard my name being called out on the intercom.” When the rest of the girls were called out, Molina said that she felt very out of place, because it was something new for her and she was the odd one out. “Many people, even people that I didn’t know, said that they hoped to see me win. This really stood out to me because it showed that many others also wanted change. The friends supporting me started to get involved in the Homecoming spirit week. I feel like since my people were finally being represented a wall was broken.”
Molina describes her day on the day of Homecoming, “I woke up early to pick up and wash my friend's convertible. I was in a big time crunch, because I still went to school just to be sure I wasn’t missing out on any important material. I left after my third period class, because I had to be at First Baptist Church for the parade and wanted to have some time to get ready. A friend of mine, Alexia, offered to do my hair and makeup. As it grew closer to 5 p.m., we had to finish up so I could pick up my mom and my escort, Jorge. We paraded through downtown and people on the sidewalks stopped to wave at us. I really loved the experience of finally being on the other side of the parade. When we got on the field, I was not as nervous as I thought I would be… probably because I chose not to wear my glasses in order to avoid clearly seeing people looking at me. I stared at the ground anxiously after we were all lined up to hear who had won. “I looked up in disbelief, but undeniably proud as I heard the announcement: The 2022 homecoming queen for West High School is Arely Molina.” Last year's Queen, Evie Dalton, crowned Molina and Superintendent, General Bunch, handed her a big bouquet of flowers. “I was filled with a lot of grace knowing a lot of Hispanics in the crowd went to support me. Even though a lot of people were mad at the results, I knew that many people were counting on me to win, especially the Hispanic girls who have never seen an outcome like this at homecoming. After the crowning, I got big hugs from all of my family and friends. We took victory pictures as I was being congratulated from every direction. Afterwards, my dad gave me money to go eat out with friends and I ended the night hanging out and celebrating with them.”
Molina loves to challenge herself academically, and has taken Honors, AP, and Dual Enrollment classes, “I am very proud of my 3.6 GPA, especially after the struggle of trying to pick myself off of the ground after COVID. I would have to say that my biggest accomplishment by far is winning homecoming queen."
"I feel like this win was not earned by me, but the people who voted for me and wanted to see the same change I have always wanted.”