Hey there! My name is Ana Velazquez (she/hers/ella). I'm a first-generation, Mexican-American, and daughter of immigrants. I'm a current second-year Higher Education and Student Affairs graduate student at Northern Illinois University. I actually applied on a whim, and here we are almost two years later with just months left before I finish my program! I graduated from Bradley University in 2019 with my Bachelor's of Science in Community Wellness, which is now Public Health Education. I was super involved during my time at Bradley, and now I've found myself signing up for everything that NIU has to offer, so I guess some things just never change.
A signature event in both my professional and academic career actually started my senior year of college, the Latinx Caucus, which is a group of all the Presidents and Vice Presidents of Latinx/e organizations on campus, decided to put on the first The Meaning Behind Latinx workshop. In this workshop, our goal was to explain the historically used words given to the peoples of Latin American descent that live in the United States. This was the first "critical" conversation that got my personal attention now that I look back on this experience. While I understand that these terms aren’t always used by the “average” person that doesn’t go into academia, I enjoy studying the history and complexity of Latin American peoples.
A professional goal I hope to achieve within the next year is to launch my own podcast that I’ve been working on with a colleague. We’ve started this project and higher education journey together, and enjoy having these uncomfortable conversations together, so we thought why not do more research and record ourselves having these conversations. A long term professional goal I have for myself is to have my own personal consulting organization for justice, diversity, equity and inclusion (JEDI). The person who has influenced me the most would have to be my mentor, Norris. He knew I’d be going into higher education before I even knew. During my time as an undergraduate student, he saw the potential I had/have to do this work, and if it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t be where I am now.
While I love to discuss critical topics and issues, I have found myself having a lot of hobbies. I love taking care of my houseplants, and I’ve found that they ground me whenever I’m stressed. I also really enjoy bullet journaling, it’s been a way for me to customize my own planner but also build in some form of self-care through art. I picked up jump roping this year and while it was a challenge at first I've realized how much I enjoy it when I can't fit in a workout. When I’m not reading for class, I find some time to read some books on what seems like my never ending list of books to read. I really enjoy listening to podcasts too! I know I'm late but Crime Junkie has been great so far :).
My favorite way to pass time is probably hanging out with my niece and nephews. I love being an auntie to four beyond amazing kids! I’ve definitely found that they keep me young. Plus I get to do fun activities with them that I wish my parents were able to do with me while I was growing up.
In recent years, I’ve also enjoyed traveling in Mexico. I’ve been to at least 6 states. I have a very big soft spot for Mexican artisanal arts, and I’ve found that it’s my own way of connecting to my culture.
Even though I know that this world is enormous, I hope to get my doctoral degree and contribute to research specifically within my cultural community. I do want to leave my mark in this world, but I’m not sure of how I’ll go about doing that, so maybe Awesomely Authentic will allow me to start making my mark.