Photo by Julio Piña
Photo by Julio Piña

I was born in Los Angeles, CA and raised by Mexican immigrants. First in my family to attend college, I earned my bachelor’s degree in Modern Literature at the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC). During my undergraduate career, I was a journalist for City on a Hill Press and Third World And Native American Student Press Collective (TWANAS). At TWANAS, I wrote, edited, and designed the layout for the student-run magazine dedicated to the continuation of journalistic work. TWANAS seeks to shed light on the discrimination endured by under-represented peoples as well as cover stories that are stealthily ignored and/or misreported.

My frustration for the lack of access to resources and a non-culturally relevant education system led me to become a mentor for Corre La Voz, a mentoring program for 4th and 5th grade English language learners seeking to develop literacy through digital media projects.

Through all of these endeavors in youth advocacy and media, I continued my passion for storytelling—a power of sharing stories with a perspective true to the community whom those stories belong to.

Along with my journalistic pursuits at the university, I began exploring different forms of self-expression and storytelling. My curiosity to explore my own history through different forms allowed for me to emerge as a Mexican Folklórico dancer. Thus lending a deeper understanding of who I am and where I come from. This enlightening experience helped me identify the need not only for students to have a creative outlet, but also for the community to advocate the necessity for spaces that nurture self-ownership. This led me to further explore and document the history of the 40-year-old group that continues to give meaning to Latinos at UCSC.  Read story: Dancing a Legacy (p. 15)

After obtaining my degree, I continued my quest for self-exploration and found myself in San José, CA. I was drawn to the diversity that the city offered and saw it as an opportunity to continue the growth of my artistry and evolvement in media and storytelling.

My passion towards social justice guided me to Public Allies, a program dedicated to nurturing multicultural leaders in the nonprofit and government sectors throughout the Bay Area. Through there, I began my professional career working in community media as CreaTV San Jose’s Education Coordinator. At CreaTV, I continued to be an advocate for youth in having access to a platform for their voices to be heard. Exploring other organizations dedicated to youth development, I found the School of Arts and Culture at the Mexican Heritage Plaza. At the school, I worked towards enhancing arts education by expanding our reach in the community to access to arts and culture.

All of these experiences continue to build my confidence in my identity, which aids to the continuation of myself as a writer. As a Chicana, I write about my experiences not only as a mujer, but a mujer latina, daughter to immigrant parents, and first born generation in the States. I continue to seek stories to have a better understanding of who I am and hope that in doing so, I inspire others to share their stories.

It is through the art forms that I practice that I hope to rekindle the passion for life in others—the freedom in self-expression. I am a storyteller. Each story is unique and speaks on the realities of our environment, our history, our background, and our way of loving. I seek to create spaces for self-exploration and self-ownership through the practice of art and creativity. ◊

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