KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Claudia Meyer is making history. She became the first female Latina to lead her Kansas City high school.

With more than 20 years in education, she was recently named president of Cristo Rey High School in Kansas City.

“I want to be a supportive president,” Meyer said. “I want to make sure I am here for our families. I want to be the biggest cheerleader for our families, for our students, for our staff.”

Meanwhile, she’s embracing her culture and showing students that with hard work and determination, anything is possible.

“It signifies responsibility, you know. It’s not a position that I take lightly. It’s a position that I am very honored to have,” Meyer said.

Cristo Rey is a private Catholic school, funded by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth. The school focuses on college and career preparation.

Meyer said the school has “the unique feature of the corporate work study program, which all of our students from 9th grade to 12th grade get to experience every year.”

Meyer has centered her career on helping children. She’s worked as a teacher, counselor, instructional leader and principal.

“To me there’s no other profession that can make such an impact in life, in the lives of others,” she said. “And I continue to see that throughout, I see that every day when I speak to former students or I see alumni from here doing amazing things.”

It’s a journey, she said, that hasn’t always been easy.

“My story begins like many other people who come to this country looking for a better future, a better opportunity,” Meyer said.

She moved to the United States from Brazil when she was 15 years old, speaking very little to hardly any English.

But it’s a path she’s grateful for.

“It has made me who I am today. It made the woman who I am today,” Meyer said. “I’m grateful for all those experiences.”

“I share my story all the time. I share my story with whoever wants to hear because I truly believe that hard work, dedication and determination to succeed really pays off,” she added.

Meyer is a mother, wife, educator and a philanthropist.

She supports the H8 Cancer Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to raising funds for research and to promote awareness of better treatment options to save lives.

She also serves as a mentor for KC BizFest, a program that helps Kansas City-area high school students learn a variety of business techniques and life skills.

Meyer is also a member of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City.

“I truly feel that my mission is to pay it forward,” Meyer said. “I’ve had so much support in my life. All I want to do is make sure that I’m giving back to the community, giving back to someone else.”

Her ability to believe in others and bring out the best in them is what some have called the “Meyer Effect.”

“I have this saying that’s right there: We rise by lifting others,” she said. “That’s really important to just be able to support one another in life.”

With her leadership, positive mentality and actions to put students first, Claudia Meyer is truly a remarkable woman.