Elena Barrera-Waters is a student at the Liberal Arts & Science Academy here in Austin. The school, located in northeast Austin, was named Niche.com’s #1 public high school in Texas and #2 on the national list of top high schools. While her school is receiving national acclaim, Barrera-Water is no stranger to awards and recognition herself.
In 2015, she was named one of Mogul’s Top 30 High School Moguls in the US, an award that honors 30 of the brightest, most driven young women from around the country. Her classmate, Rebekah Albach also received the award that same year.
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We recently chatted with Barrera-Waters to discuss the award, what the recognition meant to her, and her growing involvement within the Austin community.
When asked about her award, Barrera-Waters laughed, saying she “didn’t know anything related to Mogul or the award,” even though the article was already in the works.
“I found out via a LinkedIn message from a Mogul representative saying I was selected [as a Top Mogul],” explained Barrera-Waters. “Since I hadn’t heard of the award, the first thing I did was make sure it wasn’t a scam.”
Barrera-Waters says that according to Mogul, she became a top contender after receiving anonymous nominations throughout the academic year. She says she was both surprised and excited.
Finding Her Passion
Originally from California, Barrera-Waters moved to Austin in 2004. Despite the challenges of a new city and the start of high school, Barrera-Waters craved something more. A strong writer by nature, she sought out online publications and began writing for Smart Girls Group, known today as Spire & Co.
Like a few of our favorite #girlbosses, Barrera-Waters found herself concentrating on women’s health and education, and after her sophomore year, she began her first internship at Conceivable, an Austin-based organization that helps women get pregnant naturally.
While she spent her first summer managing Conceivable’s social media outlets, she honed in on her passions during her second summer internship, working as an outreach intern at Viv Wellness, an affiliate program of Conceivable. Focusing on high school females, Barrera-Waters developed a marketing program for a product and program designed to raise awareness about menstrual health.
“A lot of girls [at my school] were surprised to learn that they don’t need to deal with painful cramps or other side effects of having your period,” said Barrera-Waters. She says she enjoyed helping her peers and providing them with information and knowledge she had.
That same summer she created an Ambassadors Program for well-known bloggers in the industry and high school girls. She also regularly contributed blog posts for Viv Wellness’s blog, The Monthly.
According to Barrera-Waters, the Top Mogul award pushed her to be more vocal about what she cared about. As a second semester senior, Barrera-Waters continues to educate and inform her peers and young women about their health.
“I was keeping a lot [of my projects and work] to myself,” explained Barrera-Waters. “But all of a sudden, [what I was doing] was out and I realized that I [could] help other people, and I [could] extend my reach and my message.”
Barrera-Waters is planning for college. While she doesn’t know where she’ll be studying, she’s confident in her experiences; she hopes to focus on women’s studies.
Whether she’ll pair it with other programs like gender studies, political science, or something more specific, Barrera-Waters says, for now, she’ll let that part figure it out on its own.
Featured image courtesy of Barrera-Waters’ Facebook