Meet Juana Matias of Lawrence, Massachusetts. Despite having never held elected office, the determined 29-year-old toppled her competition – two seasoned men – in the primary race to become the Democratic candidate for State Representative of the 16th Essex District. “Since there are no Republicans running against her in the general election on November 8th, Juana is the presumptive Representative for her District” and poised to make history as the first Latina state representative in Massachusetts. Prepare to be inspired.

Juana, who migrated from the Dominican Republic to the United States with her family in the late 1980s, says her interest in politics was born from her own experience growing up in Lawrence, an immigrant city (approximately 75% Hispanic). “I know what it’s like to have a job that pays minimum wage. I know what it’s like to have parents who don’t speak English try to navigate the system.” So she threw her hat in the political ring with the goal of rolling up her sleeves to serve and advocate for the community.

“I know what it’s like to have a job that pays minimum wage. I know what it’s like to have parents who don’t speak English try to navigate the system.”

Juana’s bid for state representative of the 16th district, which includes the city of Lawrence, initially pit her against two experienced adversaries: an incumbent who has been running for elected office in Lawrence for over 30 years and a promoter who has resided in Lawrence for many years. Fueled by her tenacious attitude and a strong work ethic, both of which she says got from her hard-working, entrepreneurial parents, Juana put in 15 hour days campaigning, door to door, and crushed her competition in the primaries, getting one step closer to making political history in her home state next week on November 8th.

With no real political experience other than participating in student government and interning for the Executive Office of Governor Deval Patrick during college, Juana plans to rely on her education – a Bachelor’s degree (Political Science and Criminal Justice) from University of Massachusetts Boston; her JD from Suffolk University Law School – and her professional experience with social work, criminal and corporate law, and immigration advocacy to be “the voice of the people who don’t have a voice at the State House.”