Moving from a community college to Mills was daunting, but in just one year Maritza has surprised herself with her academic success and her ability to be a leader. She has found herself on a positive personal growth curve as she expands her relationships, focuses her interests, and continues to deepen her passion for learning.
What’s your proudest accomplishment since arriving at Mills? I’m so surprised and proud of how well I did my first semester! It was a dramatic change from community college, and it had been a while since I had classes as rigorous as they are here. Because my courses are within my field, I am passionate about what I’m learning. In my second semester, I gave a 10-minute “TED Talk” on disability justice and how it could look at Mills College. It was well received, and I was asked to speak on a panel about wellness to the Board of Trustees! It’s only been a year, but being here has made me feel like I can be a leader. I’ve been able to grow an immense amount.
Who are your favorite professors? My favorites are Priya Kandaswamy and Julia Chinyere Oparah. Darshan Campos, who was visiting in my second semester, has also been amazing. I have learned so much from all of them, and they’ve been incredibly supportive and innovative in terms of accommodating my hearing loss in the classroom.
Has anything surprised you about Mills? It wasn’t until I arrived that I realized how much I deeply needed this community. I felt nervous throughout orientation, but at the Women of Color Reception I heard many similar sentiments of relief—which was amazing and overwhelming. It was there that I met my closest friends and the Diversity and Social Justice Resource Center staff. I worked with the center during the following semester as a social justice peer educator. It took a little while, but I found my space.
What are your plans after graduation? I know I want to work where social justice and education intersect. I’m still figuring out what space I would want to put my energy into and what tools (such as grad school) will get me there. But I am confident in the direction I will go thanks to my experience at Mills.