College of Social Sciences
Why did you choose your major?
I am majoring in sociology with a concentration in community change. My junior year of high school I was introduced to sociology by two of my mentors. Reading about social theory and about how systems and institutions affect life outcomes really helped me make sense of the world I live in. Sociology has given me the tools to ask questions and pursue a guided search for answers.
What does receiving this particular award mean to you?
Receiving this award has been a chance for me to reflect on the people who have helped me succeed in college as well as to reflect on the passion I have for what I have chosen to study. It is great to be recognized for the hard work I have put in. I was notified of my award during midterms week and it has been a great motivation to continue striving towards my academic success.
Who has been instrumental in your life and/or who has contributed to your academic
My parents are the people who have contributed the most to my academic achievement because they have truly sacrificed a lot to allow me the opportunity of pursuing higher education. The SJSU community has some amazing people who have also supported my success. Maribel Martinez, the program coordinator at the Cesar Chavez Community Action Center, has instilled in me the importance of centering myself in social justice. Marcos Pizarro, the chairperson of the Mexican American Studies Department and my McNair Scholars mentor, has shown me a holistic approach to learning that I am now exploring in one of his classes. Jeannine and Nisha, the directors of the McNair Scholars Program, have given me the resources I need to successfully pursue graduate school. Also, my friends, coworkers, and peers have given me overwhelming support as I transition into the next stage of my academic career.
Did you overcome any hardships or adversities during your life, that has helped shape
who you are today? And if so, could you please briefly elaborate?
I grew up in San Francisco in a working class neighborhood with my parents and my younger brother. My family came to the United States from Nicaragua in the 1980s. My cousins and I are the first in our family to attend and graduate from a university. Being a first generation student has many obstacles, including learning how to navigate the education system without previous examples. Through the help of my community I have been able to push through the many challenges and persevere in higher learning.
What would you say to other students to encourage or inspire them to attain academic
I would advise other students to find out what their passion is and incorporate it into their studies. I was able to realize my passion for social justice early on. I chose to study the issues that are most important to me in college, such as racial inequality, educational disparities, and gender issues. Having a keen interest in the classes you are taking is essential to maximizing what you get out of your academic career. I was also able to find a job on campus as the Legacy Tours program assistant at the Cesar Chavez Community Action Center. I coordinate campus tours for k-12 students that focus on social justice and student empowerment by highlighting the stories of Tommie Smith, John Carlos, Dr. Harry Edwards, Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and Yoshihiro Uchida and the relationship of their activism with SJSU. I not only found a major that fits my interests, but I also found a job where I can make connections between the theory I learn in class and apply it to the real world.
Where would you like to be in 5-10 years?
In the next five years I will most likely still be in graduate school in Boston. I was recently admitted into the sociology PhD program at Northeastern University.
A few words from her nominating professor:
Victoria is the daughter of immigrants and has recently completed a powerful research project that looks back at the challenges first-generation students of color experience in private high schools. She was also just admitted directly into the PhD program at Northeastern.