Connecticut Voice

Your LGBTQ+ Voice

A Distinguished Young Bisexual Woman

College-bound Christina Vega of Suffield is an activist and aspiring journalist.

By Dawn Ennis


Even before graduating  from Suffield High School on June 8, Christina Vega has spent her Winter, Spring and Summer touring Connecticut as our state’s winner of a national scholarship program for high school girls. In January, Vega was named the Distinguished Young Woman of Connecticut for 2024 and awarded a $500 scholarship.

It’s a role befitting a young woman who has been outspoken and active in her hometown throughout her high school years, taking on the town’s school superintendent last year when he pulled the plug on her student-led event for Black History Month, and writing an op-ed about racism in her hometown following George Floyd’s murder, when she was but a freshman.

“I’m tired of living in fear,” she wrote. “Tired of watching my community get slaughtered for doing absolutely nothing. The Black Lives Matter movement is rooted in the desire to put an end to racism and violence towards African Americans. When I say, ‘Black Lives Matter,’ that doesn’t mean that your life isn’t important. It means, Black lives matter, too.”

Vega, 18, described herself in that eloquent, 2020 opinion piece as Afro-Latina. Although she and her family have been active in Suffield Pride and other events since moving here from Rochester, N.Y., Vega told CT Voice it has been a difficult adjustment.

“It was definitely a change coming here and being one of maybe ten families of color,” she said, noting that she has found acceptance as a bisexual. “There is actually a pretty large LGBTQ population here in Suffield, all high schoolers, middle schoolers, and so, adults tend to not get involved.”

That’s not been the case for her parents, Jerry Vega and Cassandre Victor-Vega. They regularly attend Suffield Pride events with Christina and her siblings, Elianna and Elias. But something’s still missing, Vega said: Other people of color.

“You look at the makeup of those events and it’s like, ‘Oh, it’s just us here.’ We don’t really have allies from the town, you know? So, it’s difficult to grow up feeling unsupported. And that’s why I think that my family has been so important to my development, and being able to identify the way I do and to be proud of identifying the way I do. Because sometimes, going outside and feeling like you’re one in a million and feeling like there’s no one around, it really does take a toll.”

Vega admits to having PTSD from her ruined plans for last year’s Black History Month: the creation of a modern “Black Wall Street” at her school — in commemoration of that thriving African American community in Oklahoma, destroyed in 1921 in an eruption of racial violence. It was to feature local vendors of color and was being sponsored by her high school, until the superintendent withdrew his support. Ultimately it was canceled due to fundraising as well as the school not wanting the liability to host the event and preferred an outside organization to carry the liability.

“This all collapsed when they found out how I was advertising to get donations, because obviously I couldn’t pay for such a huge event by myself,” said Vega. “I thought that seeing ‘Black Wall Street’ at school with all the businesses would bring about a sense of true community, a groundbreaking community, because if the event had happened, I think that would have been the most  Black people ever at Suffield High School! I thought it would have been such a beautiful representation of the successes of our history, rather than just the tragedies that we tend to focus on.”

“As someone who is in a PWI—a predominately white institution—I struggle with seeing myself represented in history positively and seeing the Black community shown in a positive light in our history classes,” she said.

Fortunately, she has the opportunity to serve as a role model for youth across the state as part of her role as the 2024 Distinguished Young Woman of Connecticut. The message Vega is tasked with spreading is, “Be Your Best Self.”

Her selection has now taken her beyond the state line; Vega is representing Connecticut at the 67th National Finals this summer in Mobile, Alabama. After participating in personal development activities and community service projects, she and 49 other representatives from across the country are competing for the opportunity to become the Distinguished Young Woman of America for 2024, which also comes with cash scholarships.

“I am absolutely ecstatic,” said Vega about this opportunity. “I want to show all Black and Latina women, as well as all queer women, that we deserve recognition, and praise for all that we do. We need to be proud of ourselves, and we deserve to be trailblazers in every field we enter.”

Come fall, Vega is enrolled to begin her studies at the prominent historically Black college in Washington, D.C., Howard University. And just as she has in Suffield, she aims to make her voice heard.

“It is up to us as the LGBTQ community to find places where we are celebrated and not tolerated,” said Vega. “And I’m willing to do the work to find those spaces over at Howard.”

Before graduating, Vega said she worked to restart Suffield High’s long dormant student newspaper. “To write is to have power, share your opinions and be loud about it,” she said.  “Because the louder you are, the harder it is to ignore.”