Where did you grow up?
I was born in Bogotá, Colombia and lived there until I was 8, with my dad, my mom, and my brother, who is two years younger. My mom has always been an elementary school teacher and through her job we moved to the United States. I went to a bilingual school in Colombia, but not like the English you would learn here. When we moved to San Jose, I was in English Language Learner classes, and eventually became completely bilingual and bicultural. It was all due to my mom. As a teacher, every weekend during our first few years here, she would make us do write-ups in Spanish. My dad didn’t know any English coming here, and has developed it enough to start his own company.
How did you end up staying in the United States?
My mom got a teaching job at Horace Mann in San Jose through the VIF program [for international education], where they wanted bilingual teachers from South America to come to California to implement better Spanish [in schools]. It was originally supposed to be for three years, but my parents decided to stay for my brother and me to have better educational opportunities. Then it was almost a 10-year process to get our residency. We went through a lot of hardships such as not having a social security number, therefore not being able to work or get financial aid in college. The first two years here at Saint Mary’s were really hard. I received a lot of help from the Moraga community, the school, and the Brothers to pay for college. Finally, our residency came in and I was able to apply for financial aid and loans, and work.
Why did you choose Saint Mary's?
In my senior year at Santa Teresa High School in San Jose, I had two family friends at Saint Mary’s who said, “Hey, you should look into the school!” I visited and fell in love with the community. When I went to Santa Clara, I saw people just walking around by themselves, on their headphones not really talking to anybody. Then I came to Saint Mary’s, went into Oliver, and saw this group of people walk over and talk to another group, then walk out and sit with a different group. And that’s what I love.
What extracurricular activities have you participated in?
I am on the club soccer team here. It is a mental and physical relief for me when I am overwhelmed; soccer is my escape. I have always been a part of the Associated Students, I was class chair for freshman, sophomore, and junior year, and this year I decided to jump in and take the position of student body president. I have also always been a part of Campus Recreation. Back when it was called Rec Sports in Madigan, I was a really big part of marketing, and helped with the transition to Campus Recreation in the Joseph Alioto Recreation Center. I spoke at the beam signing ceremony in January 2014, where I was the student representative and got to sign a beam. I have also been a big part of Sodexo and can call them my second family. I’m their marketing intern and have been since sophomore year.
What do you do off campus?
I am an inspirational speaker and go to schools in California to spread a ripple effect. I believe that if you’re happy, you’re healthy, and if you’re following your passion, everything else will fall into place as long as you keep a positive attitude.
What are some of your most meaningful academic experiences at SMC?
The classes here have really encouraged me to have a global perspective, especially with [classes like] the Jan Term class I just took where we went to China and South Korea. We went on a business and culture class trip to Beijing and Seoul. I realized when I took my first Seminar, I was very energetic and outgoing. I wanted to talk as much as I could to get the best grade, but as the years went by, and I got a more global perspective through my business and communication classes, I learned more about rhetoric and the way we communicate. I learned it’s not about how much I speak, but about how much I encourage others to speak. I started to speak less, and took the opportunities in small group discussions and out of class to help others.
What are your thoughts on the College community’s ongoing dialogue about inclusivity?
I am a strong believer that Saint Mary's will work together and persevere through the difficult yet needed conversations that are happening on campus. The administration and staff are doing a great job of listening to students and providing spaces for them to speak up. And the students are doing a great job in voicing their concerns in a civilized manner to the people that need to hear them. The current national elections are bringing out a lot of emotion in people across the nation and I know the Saint Mary's community acknowledges that. I am looking forward to the implementation of the president’s strategic plan for alleviating the current tension around campus.
What’s next for you after graduation?
I plan to spend the year making a living out of becoming an inspirational speaker. I want to travel California and try to get speaking engagements at different schools. If at the end of the year, I love it and that’s what I want to do, then I’ll keep doing it. If not, then I eventually want to do a master’s in organizational leadership. I also want to start a marketing communication firm with my brother. He is a graphic design major, and a marketing minor, and I think it would be really cool to work together because he’s my best friend.
By Danielle Moye '16