Latina Chicana Queer Tejana Immigrant First-Gen Graduate
I am a fifth year PhD student and Teaching Associate in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese at UCLA. Most of my academic and professional work has been guided by a firm commitment to the defense of human rights and, more specifically, a dedication to accessible education.
I was born in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, México but grew up in Houston, TX. As an immigrant and having grown up facing immense financial hardship, my family often fantasized about how we would live our american dream. My parents instilled in me a great dedication and appreciation for learning. They always insisted that school was going to be the path to opportunity and success. And as the eldest of three daughters I would pave the way for my younger siblings.
My upbringing led to a profound feeling of responsibility for others and a determination to succeed academically. I continuously worked hard throughout high school so that I would live out my success through higher education. I was both nervous and ecstatic when I got into Rice University.
I had a love-hate relationship with higher education. I loved all of the learning and new information I was exposed but I thoroughly felt like the university was not made for people like me. I felt insecure about my place at Rice and felt very insecure about my abilities. I felt constantly that everyone had access to a secret manual with cheat codes and how-to guides. It was when I was struggling most, when I thought about dropping out, that I met a professor that changed my life.
They came from a similar background and validated some of the things I was experiencing. They always asked me how I was doing and connected me to resources when I felt lost. And by the end of my bachelor’s I knew that I wanted to be like them when I grew up and help out another student that is struggling. My time in graduate school has not been any easier and has further cemented the need for support for underrepresented students at all levels of education.
It is my firm belief that a university education should be accessible, inclusive, and critically engaging. These values have guided my activism and advocacy both inside and outside my classroom. When I’m not researching or studying I spend my time fighting for more inclusive university practices for first-gen students, sitting on different campus committees, and developing programming that benefits underrepresented undergraduate and graduate student communities.
I am a proud product of the communities that have supported me throughout my academic and professional journey. Now is my time to pay it forward.