Service Array:
Individual Skill Development and Enhancement

Born in a small rural town in Wisconsin, I grew up in poverty and my early life was marked by a number of struggles. At home, my two siblings and I were often left to fend for ourselves, as one parent was absent and apathetic, while the other dealt with alcoholism and doled out abuse. To add to this, we were a biracial family with Mexican heritage, and even with a lighter-skinned appearance, I faced discrimination, prejudice, and even outright racism, which was a painful reminder that bigotry knows no boundaries. The safest option was for me to leave where I grew up at age seventeen, and move to Eau Claire. Cut off from my family and support systems, I struggled with food and housing insecurity. Thankfully, I was given a scholarship to the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire to pursue a Bachelor’s degree.

Although a college education was not the highest priority for me (and I sometimes encountered difficulties as a neurodivergent student), the scholarship was an incredible opportunity, and since graduating, I realize the importance of education and life-long learning. As a woman of color and third-generation immigrant, I always held the belief that there’s much more to the world than what we see in our own backyards. I found solace in learning about the world and how nations interact on a global scale. Studying world politics, I saw the ways varying nations can work toward similar goals, and felt more equipped to tackle challenges with a broadened, global mindset. It taught me the value of diplomacy, how to work well in groups, how to lead with an open mind, and to welcome other opinions and backgrounds.

Amidst the struggles I encountered along the way, I found solace and healing through illustrations and storytelling. Artistic expressions have been a refuge my entire life, a way for me to process and make sense of the world around me. Likewise, I sought solace and connection within my community, forging meaningful, supportive relationships. Healing cannot be achieved in isolation. Though difficult at times, I reached out for support and found a multitude of resources that nurtured and uplifted me.

Inspired by the kindness and compassion I received, I want to give back to those who have experienced similar struggles. As someone with a biracial background and neurodivergent learning style, I aim to work with individuals with similar upbringings – and those who have experienced neglect, abuse, trauma, or even bigotry – to demonstrate how, despite circumstances being stacked against us, we can succeed together.