What does being a First-Generation College Graduate mean to you?
Being a First-Gen graduate means that I've made my family proud. It means that this degree not only belongs to me but to my family as well. My college experience at IC was very difficult.. and at times I didn't think I would make it to the end. With the love and support I found in family and friendships, I was able to identify the gifts I already had within me and grow into the woman I am today. IC refined those gifts over the course of 4 years, and now I can proudly say that I made it to the end. I can now be the resource I wish I had for those who are coming after me.
What is your proudest moment from your time at Ithaca College?
While it was no easy task, I was very proud of myself and fellow E-Board members (PODER Latinx Student Association) for putting on an amazing 10th Annual Banquet for the organization. As a team, we were able to not only secure a high-profile guest, but also create connections within the Afro-Latino community in Ithaca. Our banquet was attended by over 250 people. While it was not perfect, I am proud that I was able to be a part of something that was so beautiful and meaningful to our community.
Who are the family members, friends or loved ones who have been most influential throughout your college journey? Are there any words of gratitude you would like to share with them?
My mother, Lyllian Velazquez and my sister, Raquel Esteves-Joyce. They have been by my side since the beginning. It's always been just us. Without them I'm not sure where I'd be. They prayed for me, supported me from a distance, and loved me- even when it was hard. I am forever grateful to have them in my life. And my father, Arturo Sanchez who passed away while I was in high school. Everything I do is to make him proud.
Who are the staff, faculty or mentors who have been most influential throughout your college journey? Are there any words of gratitude you would like to share with them?
Dr. Maria DiFrancesco welcomed me into her classroom with open arms my freshman year. She pushed me and always encouraged me to want more. She listened to me, when I felt like no one else would. Nicole Koschmann- my scholarship director. She was relentless in helping me understand that I was more than worthy to be a scholar in the Park School of Communications. I wouldn't have made it to the end without her. She saw me for who I truly was. She advocated for me in ways that no one else could/would. She is amazing in every sense of the word. RahK Lash- listened to me and helped me whenever I needed guidance. He works endlessly to make space for students who need to be seen and heard. He's incredibly smart and patient. I'm very grateful to have him in my life. Michael Serino- we may not always agree but we have a mutual respect for one another. He saw potential in me and pushed me to use my voice and platform for good. He listened to me and mentored me. I am forever grateful to have had him in my corner during my time at IC. Professor Allison Frisch- was a breath of fresh air in the journalism department. She saw me for all that I was. She is strong and passionate in all that she pursues. She believed in me and my dreams, and stood by my side through the hardest of times. She saw the beauty in my island without me having to explain it. She mentored me and taught me both inside and outside of the classroom. I am so blessed to have her.
What do you plan or hope to do now that you have graduated?
I hope to work with human rights activists in Latin America and the Caribbean. I intend to use the skills I've developed within journalism, politics, and Latinx studies to amplify voices of those who have been ignored and stifled.
Are there any Clubs, Activities, or Involvements that you were a part of at Ithaca College?
PODER Latinx Student Association, Sister 2 Sister, MacCormick Secure Center Literacy Program