Samantha Parra, a sophomore at Glencoe High School in Hillsboro, has made quite a name for herself in downtown Hillsboro — all just a year after her family relocated from Beaverton.
Not only does she balance her school life — including as a member of the school dance team — with her own entrepreneurial pursuits, Parra also helps out other Hillsboro businesses with their marketing and outreach.
She's even used her talents to help fire-affected businesses that were impacted by the New Year's weekend blazes that rocked Hillsboro.
"She just kind of became a part of our family," said E.J. Payne, executive director of the Hillsboro Downtown Partnership, where Parra interned last summer. "She's just such a joy to be around and is so inspirational and humble."
Lucia Nguyen, of the Lucia Isabel Collection dress shop in downtown Hillsboro, says that Parra was instrumental in helping her get her store up and running.
They collaborated on dress and accessory designs, and Parra modeled some of Nguyen's dresses. She also helped her break into the high school market by advertising prom and quinceañera dresses she sells out of her downtown store.
But then, just as her business was starting to thrive, tragedy struck Nguyen's business. Her shop was located in the Weil Arcade building, which burned down on Jan. 2.
Parra jumped to help her friend relocate and even helped organize a raffle fundraiser to try and support Nguyen's business.
"She and her mom put together these baskets … that people could make a donation for raffle tickets for a chance to win," Nguyen explained.
Parra's mom, Yohana Parra, is herself a resource for local businesses. She works with the Hillsboro-based Washington County Chamber of Commerce, doing outreach and engagement for Latino-owned businesses.
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
"She's done a million things for me," Nguyen said of Samantha Parra. "Overall, she is an amazing person — not just as an entrepreneur, but just as a friend. And I admire her so much. She's going to go so far with that mindset. She's always willing to help people."
Some of the baskets in the dress shop fundraiser even contained jewelry and accessories created by Parra herself, through her local business, Rosetastic Designs.
With a little help from Mom, she sells her wares on Etsy, as well as at local farmers markets. She's also one of several local teens whose work is for sale at the Temporium store, located in the Third Avenue building out of which the Hillsboro Downtown Partnership also operates.
Payne says Parra set a very high bar in the Hillsboro Downtown Partnership's internship program.
"She's just a really smart, collaborative and innovative young person. And she balances it all with school and dance," said Payne. "I can't imagine anyone ever saying anything bad about her. She's just so genuinely nice."
Parra has gone on to do a similar marketing internship through Ground Up Coffee in Hillsboro, where she also works as a barista.
Parra said she's still deciding whether she will forge her own career through her business, get into the marketing profession, or do something else entirely. She says she plans to do early college prep courses in her junior and senior years in high school, but she hasn't decided yet whether she will go to a four-year university, community college, or pursue some other avenue altogether.
Whatever the future holds for Parra, those she's touched through her volunteerism and entrepreneurship all agree that she's headed for great things.
"She has an amazing future ahead of her," said Payne. "She's making a lot of her present, for sure, but she's got an even more amazing future ahead of her. It hasn't even been a year that I've known her, but she's already made such an impact on our lives and our organization."
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