Mercedez Marquez grew up in Eloy, Arizona with her parents and four siblings. Her father’s family origins are in Chihuahua and her mother was born and raised in the Southwest US. She owes her life to her mother who passed away when Mercedez was only sixteen. During this time, Mercedez became more and more disconnected from school. Her mother’s passion for learning continues to motivate her to return to her education–to complete high school and to go onto college. Since her early teenage years, Mercedez has been involved with the behavioral health system. Despite the challenges, she is continuously grateful for the lessons and people–peers, elders, service providers–she has encountered along the way. For Mercedez, it is important to fight against the stigma of mental illness, and she strives to do this in her personal life and in her professional life. Mercedez moved to Tucson in 2017 and has been working to build a life for herself and find her pathway to stability. She has also been an active youth leader with different communities and resources throughout Pima County. As an Opportunity Youth herself, she works to support, empower, and raise awareness about the challenges facing her community. She is an Administrative member of the United Youth Leadership Council, the Community Arts Youth Coordinator for United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, the leader of The Backpack Project Youth Coalition, a Goodwill Metro Youth Program enrollee, and she recently completed her service as an AmeriCorps State Member for Arizona Serve. She is also actively involved with Pima County’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative and completed the Reimagining Juvenile Justice training. Mercedez is a proud Native Chicana, a sister, an artist, and a survivor.
2018 Ricardo Salinas Scholar, Ricardo Salinas Scholarship
Mercedez Marquez grew up in Eloy, Arizona with her parents and four siblings.