And Talking the Talk
The most defining moment in my life was when I started school in the U.S., back in 2012. It was my first year of high school and everything was different, including the language. Back then I would translate almost every word to my native language. I remember how people would laugh at my accent and say things like, “Mexicans talk funny." Sometimes I felt as though my voice had a chain around it, and I felt isolated from other people. English Language Learners classes were very helpful in learning grammar and reading, but I think the best way to practice pronunciation is to sing in front of the mirror, even if you forget half the lyrics.
After mastering the English language, not only did I become more positive, but I also became more involved in my school and community. This was possible because of the support from my parents and advisors. Since then, I have built the confidence needed to not let my accent define me. I now use my bilingual strength to reach more individuals and motivate other underrepresented students to come to college.
Choosing A Path
It’s not easy to find “the perfect fit” while choosing a major. In fact, I still remember one of my mom’s many supporting phrases, “ Echale ganas mi niña / You can do it, sweetie” which helped me when I was in doubt during this decision.
Metzin Aketzali are aztec names, meaning 'good cloud' and 'clear water.' They remind me of family, my roots, and the rich mexican culture.
After a brief time as a chemical engineering major, I switched to BioResource Research with an option in Sustainable Ecosystems. I choose this major because of how dynamic it is, and how it will help me work toward my future goals. I want to pursue a graduate degree in public policy or environmental law, and eventually work on humanitarian projects that provide sustainable solutions for communities. Moreover, I want to work in the agriculture or education sectors to construct and implement programs that support and represent families and students.
Eventually, I would like to propose my own thesis centered around bilingual education. I want to create programs that provide experiential learning opportunities and funding so that anyone can pursue a degree in higher education.
Learning in Puerto Rico
This past spring break, I had the opportunity to do a service learning trip to Puerto Rico through the College of Agriculture Sciences. This service consisted of a set of different projects to help a rural school with their agriculture curriculum, and included the creation of a garden and the reconstruction of a sidewalk.
In only one week, I truly learned the importance of bilingual education. I helped to translate agricultural education lessons from English to Spanish, and with the help of University of Puerto Rico students, gave a lesson to middle schoolers about agriculture in Puerto Rico.
During a tour at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez, I was able to meet very hardworking and passionate people. I felt lucky to hear their powerful stories. We discussed the differences between Puerto Rico and US schools, and using my native language in a completely different place had a great impact on me. It helped me create many amazing connections.
I also had a lot of fun talking to the locals, soaking in the sun at the beach, and of course dancing to bachata, salsa, and reggaeton.
Pushing the Limits
One thing that has taught me discipline and gave me confidence is definitely running. I ran track and cross country in high school. The 3,000 meter and 5,000 meter were my favorites because the last lap always gave me so much adrenaline. You learn to test your limits and truly dig deeper to get those fast times.
For Future Students
“I don’t want you to think like me, I just want you to think” - Frida Kahlo
If you’re unsure about selecting a major, no worries, I was also in your shoes and many other students have been too. That’s why you came here in the first place. Take a variety of classes, ask questions to advisors, join clubs, get to know at least one professor, go to campus events, apply for study abroad programs, internships, and research opportunities. With some extra effort you can find the major you’re passionate about.
Learn to say no. You will encounter many amazing opportunities, but don’t overwhelm yourself. Take a step back and don’t commit to more things than you can handle.
P.S. You’re here for a reason, so push yourself a little out of your comfort zone. College is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so get out there and shine. Whatever needs to happen will happen.