Wave-Maker Spotlight: Enrique, First-Gen College Graduate and Fulbrighter
The following profile is an excerpt from the 30/30 book, which features 30+ Wave-Maker alumni in commemoration with Making Waves’ 30th anniversary. Stay tuned for the full book! Photo by Amy Perl.
What really matters to you and why?
I’ve come to realize the importance of intercultural understanding and interpersonal connections during a time in which the world seems very divided. At Pitzer College, I met people from different backgrounds and studied abroad in both Costa Rica and Italy. In both countries, I shared bits about my cultural upbringing as a US citizen with a Mexican heritage while learning about their culture and history. I continued this work through my own Fulbright in Mexico, and I now help create these exchanges by supporting Mexican Fulbright recipients pursuing their master’s degrees or PhDs in the US. Having a cultural lens besides our own helps to comprehend national and international issues, which is very important in our current society.
How do you recycle your success?
In college I worked with Jumpstart, where I created and implemented lesson plans to promote literacy among young children. I’ve also promoted programs that provide exposure for first-generation or underrepresented groups, which is how I became involved with the Pitzer Office of Admission as a diversity intern. I participate in programs that have a connection to my personal background or previous experiences, with the hope of creating a feeling and experience similar to the one I had with Making Waves.
What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome?
As a first-generation student from an underrepresented ethnic and socioeconomic background, it was difficult to find my place in a private liberal arts college. At the same time, it was difficult to explain to my family why certain decisions were better for my (and their) future, despite these decisions creating physical distances between us. Fortunately, I was able to create strong friendships with people in college that helped me overcome this outsider feeling. As for my family, their hesitations soon transformed into unconditional support for my goals and aspirations. I attribute this to the support that Making Waves provided my parents prior to their child’s departure to college. Being the first to live new experiences, such as going to college and studying abroad, can be scary for the student and the family. However, the beauty behind my experience—which helped me overcome my fears and difficult situations—was that I was never alone. My family, my friends both new and old, and Making Waves accompanied me throughout the journey.
How do you support yourself to overcome adversity?
I like to think about the different approaches I can take to resolve the matter, along with the possible outcomes of each action. I also seek advice from the people around me, whether it’s family, friends, or mentors. At the end of the day, what motivates me to push through any situation are the goals I’ve set for myself and the people that have supported me thus far in achieving those goals. I will not let anything get in the way of my success.
How do you think your life would have been different without Making Waves?
I know for a fact that my life would be completely different had I not been a part of Making Waves. Making Waves helped me enroll in the high school and university I attended, constantly checked in with me to ensure I was doing well, and extended their support so that I could accomplish my goals.
What advice do you have for rising Wave-Makers?
Do not limit yourself or your opportunities because of fear. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Not only will you learn more about yourself, but you may also discover something new you’re passionate about.