Courtesy Mayra Fernandez Mayra Fernandez

Four arduous years of struggles and triumphs mark my time at Georgetown. I first arrived on Georgetown’s campus in the summer of 1999. I participated in the Community Scholars Program, a summer bridge program for those students with high academic achievements and strong dedication to service. It was in this program that I understood the meaning of independence and money management (and what a struggle that was), but most importantly it is where I met some of my best friends.

Coming from East Los Angeles, Calif., leaving my parents Humberto and Genoveva, and my two sisters, Dunia and Judee, behind, I struggled to find a place for myself here. You see I come from a place where breakfast consists of chorizo con huevos, and where the blasting sounds of rancheras and corridos are heard everywhere. My home was so comforting that leaving it meant leaving my family and leaving behind part of my rich Mexican culture.

The struggle was hard and often times seemed never ending, but I soon realized that I was struggling along with others. It was in my freshmen year that I became part of “The Committee”, a group of six Latina women that became my family. My new family helped me get adjusted to college life. We did everything together, from watching novelas to having dinner, to moving each other in and out when our parents couldn’t be here to do that. As time went by this strange place called Georgetown was starting to feel like home.

So although I had found my place I still felt that there were more struggles to be fought. Thus, I joined MEChA de Georgetown, one of the most progressive Latino organizations on campus. Here I was able to make a difference in the lives of Latinos on campus and in the District community. During my time as Executive Chair, I met a conglomeration of intelligent and culturally aware students. These people became part of my extended family. We did not eat together nor watch novelas (although we did dance to corridos every weekend), but we did confront many struggles. We addressed issues of cultural, social and political significance for Latinos. We went above and beyond our establishment as a Georgetown club, and became a movimiento up on the Hilltop. It was because of our endless struggles and through the promotion of diversity that MEChA was bestowed the honor of “Organization of the Year” by the Office of Student Programs.

At this point in my life as Hoya, I felt like there was nothing else I needed or lacked. I was wrong! My struggles never ended. Although I was part of this great and loving family, I still needed more. I had passed all the grueling economic courses in the School of Foreign Service, had found the best work-study job at the Center for Minority Educational Affairs, had sat on John Carroll’s lap, had eaten a chicken madness and had watched The Exorcist in Gaston Hall. So what was it that I still had left to do?

In my last year here, I knew I still had time to add to my family. I knew I still wanted to go beyond what I had done, and I wanted more. So in my last semester here at Georgetown, I became an Hermana of Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Incorporated. As the first and only Latina Greek Lettered Organization on campus, “Lambda Pi Chi” became the last addition to my family. Here I met wonderful women who were changing the world. Every single woman that made up a part of this organization was a leader in her community, just like I had been in my time at Georgetown. They became my sisters and they gave me the strength to keep on struggling with the final steps of my college career. Finally, I had found the last piece of the puzzle. After four years of searching for who I was, where I belonged and what I would be, I felt complete.

So as I sit here reflecting on my time as a Hoya it no longer feels like I have to struggle.

I realize that some of my struggles have been successful. I am proud to represent all those Latino students, faculty and staff that through the years have struggled for Latinos at this university, and in this country.

Mayra Fernandez is a senior in the School of Foreign Service.

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