In 2017, I didn’t know I would have a major shift in my mentality and my inner growth. It was in that year that I applied to the Gilman Scholarship; During that time, I realized my determination to study Spanish as a part of my undergrad journey. My original plans were to simply major in political science, but as I became more immersed in social advocacy in college, I realized how important communicating with Spanish speaking communities around me; especially as a mixed race Chicanx with only a basic understanding of Spanish. Being an ardent public leader enabled me to make change for my community by understanding first-hand needs. Eventually, I see myself as a prominent bilingual representative voice somewhere within the government of the United States. I came to the realization that I could not properly represent Latinx people until I could communicate effectively in Spanish.
The end goal of applying to Gilman to travel to Ecuador was to complete my Spanish Summer courses to complete a double Bachelors in both Spanish and Political Science. The summer program offered me a seat in Spanish-250, the level that boosted me to the Spanish level to my realized undertaking. Without the Gilman Scholarship I would have not pursued a minor in Latin American Studies, where my capstone centered around my multifaceted cultural experience in Ecuador and Peru. During that journey, I immersed myself in a new culture, and had the privilege to learn a perspective of the indigenous people in Ecuador and Peru. It was there I was encouraged to think further from the self; To rather think about community, mutual aid, and love for earth and nature itself. It was there I felt at peace and in turn stepped deeply into my Spanish acquisition so that I could really form a connection with the indigenous people I encountered.
Growing up, I was surrounded by family members who all spoke English and Spanish in my home of Chicago, and some family members who only spoke Spanish. As I evolved in college, I learned to embrace the qualities of being a Latinx; Which means to dance, cook, and love our tradition throughout our ethnic and cultural blueprint; For some, that includes also being able to speak and understand Spanish. When I applied for the Gilman scholarship, my professional and educational goals centered around the realization of racial injustice for the rights of underrepresented groups. In school, I embraced this passion by forming my own social justice group, being a member of several culture groups and standing up as a leader in the Multicultural and diversity program positions. By then, I began traveling abroad to different cities in the U.S. In fact, The first plane I ever boarded was to Washington D.C., where I hope to one day serve as a future leader. My trip to Ecuador not only pushed me to new heights but helped me embrace my bilingual abilities; In turn, this boosted my confidence and made me less afraid to make mistakes and pushed me forward in my public speaking abilities.
I graduated in 2019 with an impressive number of experiences in leadership positions and career opportunities that made an important imprint on my future career; My path in Ecuador guided my true passions and calling to be a servant leader. I mastered my conversational Spanish fatigue and was a more efficient communicator, speaker, and advocate in my community. The Gilman Scholarship boosted my career track with my 2017 Summer internship in Ecuador. Without that experience, I may have never ended up in my current position as a Post-Secondary Success Coach.
In part 2 of my blog post, I will speak more directly about my internship, leadership, current career experience and aspiring plans for the future.