Why did you choose your major or program? 

I choose to pursue an MPH because I believe that the health outcomes that transgender and non-binary people of color face can best be understood and addressed by studying the relevant social determinants of health. I am also pursuing an MSW to begin to tackle systemic transphobia at an interpersonal level through providing therapy for transgender and non-binary people of color. I see this combination of an MPH/MSW to allow me to address transphobia through different lenses and interventions.

What is a fun fact about you that few people know?

I speak French and I have studied in for 7 years! I studied abroad in France for two months in the summer of 2018!

What is your favorite song and why?

My favorite song is anything Jenni Rivera honestly! She has a song for any mood and really redefined what it meant to be a woman in regional Mexican genres such as Banda and Mariachi. (But if I had to choose – Mariposa de Barrio!)

What is your current favorite streaming binge and why?

I recently got into RuPaul’s Drag Race (I know hella late to the party). But I see what the hype is about! I’m hooked!

What is your favorite hobby or activity you like to do in your free time?

I like to go on long runs with my dog, Nela! I also have a podcast (Under the Same Colores Podcast) and enjoy interviewing and connecting with community members.

How have your identities (race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender) affected your college experience?

As a transgender Chicano, I have unfortunately been discredited for my accomplishments and my place in universities have been questioned simply for my identities. I typically find myself being the only trans woman of color in academic spaces, which translates to an isolating graduate school experience. However, all this serves as motivation to continue pushing forward and breaking stereotypes that people may have about me (and my community) simply for my intersecting identities.

How do you practice self-care?

I am big on journaling often, love to dance as a form of alleviating stress and enjoy staying connected to community and creating/maintaining strong friendships.

How are you adjusting to the “new normal” as we’re emerging from this pandemic? Do you have any tips for other students who are going back to college this semester?

This “new normal” is so difficult to navigate but little by little I am finding my own little ways to create joy and feed my need for social interactions in a safe and comfortable manner. My tips for students going back to college this semester would be to find your support system early (whatever that may look like for you in the midst of a pandemic) and don’t be afraid to reach out to them or ask for help! We all want each other to succeed!!

This post’s responses were submitted by Victoria’s Secret & Co. Scholarship recipient Jessie Melina Garcia Gutiérrez (She/They).

Jessie is currently studying social welfare & public health at the University of California, Berkeley. Read more about the Point Flagship Scholarship for LGBTQ students program here.

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