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As a first-generation queer Latina immigrant, I’ve used my experiences as a decade-long university student to become a professional higher education navigator. What that means is that I've learned the ins-and-outs and behind-the-scenes of higher ed.
I use these navigation skills to help underrepresented and historically-excluded communities. 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 equitable and accessible education.
I was born in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, México but grew up in Houston, TX. As an immigrant from a low-income background, my family often fantasized about how we would live out 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 ed. I loved all of the learning and new information I was exposed to but I thoroughly felt like the university was not made for people like me. I was insecure about my place in the university and did not feel confident about my abilities. It consistently felt like everyone had access to a secret manual with cheat codes and how-to guides. It was when I was struggling most and thought about dropping out that I met professors 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. So I decided to pursue my PhD so that I too could help students that felt isolated and misplaced. My time in graduate school was not any easier and has further affirmed that underrepresented students, at all levels of education, need support and community to succeed.
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 the classroom. When I’m not researching, teaching or studying I spend my time fighting for more inclusive university policies for first-gen students, I sit on various campus committees, and develop programming that benefits underrepresented undergraduate and graduate student communities.
I am a proud product of the communities that have supported and guided me throughout my academic and professional journey. Now is my time to pay it forward.
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