By RAYNE H. ELLIS Every morning Amanda Regalado, 21, wakes up and reminds herself that she is at New York University to make a difference. As a self-proclaimed future-oriented person, Regalado is preparing herself today for the life she plans to live 10 years down the road.

“I want to do something about sex slavery and help these girls who can’t help themselves, and who have been manipulated, who have been tricked and sold – oftentimes by their families,” she explained.

So she’ll go to law school, become an international human rights lawyer, and fight for those without the means to do so on their own.

“They haven’t felt the love that I’ve been able to feel. They haven’t had the life that I’ve been able to have,” she paused. Voice thick with emotion, and tears collecting in her eyes, Regalado took a deep breath, and continued, “Some of these girls are like 9, 10, 11, 12 years old, and just thinking about the wonderful, exquisite, perfect childhood that I had, and they weren’t able to have, really eats me up inside.”

But even with all of her passions figured out, Regalado acknowledged that she really doesn’t know what she’s doing. She doesn’t know who she is, where she’ll actually be in five years, or how she’ll get there, but she is trying.

“When I do find out what I am supposed to be, I will let you know.”

Q: Is there a person/character that you consider your polar opposite?

I guess it would be Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. I can’t think of an actual person because I have a positive view of everyone that I can think of. Not that I don’t like Eeyore, he is one of my favorite characters. I just don’t think I’m like him, and I feel bad that he has a nail in his bum.

Q: What do you think people take for granted about you?

I don’t say no. If someone needs my help, I have a problem saying no. I’m not a yes man, but a yes ‘Manda. I won’t ever say no to anything, like if they need help with something, or they need a project to be done, if a friend needs food, even if someone comes up to me on the street, I can’t say no.

Q: What gets you up in the morning?

Oh, my alarm clock. It is so hard to wake up. I guess I feel like I have to succeed. I’m here, and I’m very, very lucky to be here. And I’m here because my dad sacrificed a lot for me. I’m here completely on scholarships and loans, so I know that I have to do well and I have to succeed. Not only so that I can pay them back, but so that it’ll all be worth it in the end.

Q: What small things drive you forward?

Coffee. Without coffee, I am a zombie. Every night I go to sleep thinking about how excited I am to drink coffee in the morning.

Q: Who do you think you really are? Do you know?

Who am I? I’m a girl who grew up in the middle of the desert, which is a suburb of L.A. county, who knew that she had to get away because there is something more out there, so I moved to a big city. But I guess I don’t know who I am. I am the girl who is trying to figure out who she is. I don’t have anything figured out, but I’m looking. My eyes are always open. When I do find out what I am supposed to be, I will let you know.

Q: What does it mean to be strong?

It means pushing through even when you’re tired. It means standing up for what you believe in, even if everyone around you is pushing you in another direction. It’s being unapologetically you, and being okay with that. It means doing everything you can, with all of your strength, to push forward, and then pull others forward with you – so that they can be the best they can be as well.