Meet Our Scholars
Ximena Ospina Vargas
Ximena is an undocumented trans activist and student seeking to amplify the visibility of the queer immigrant community. She was born in Cali, Colombia but raised in the United States after moving to Elizabeth, New Jersey with her family at the age of five. Growing up in a mainly urban impoverished setting, developing comfort with a queer identity was a difficulty at home and school. Much of the inspiration for a fight for queer justice is Ximena's own experiences with reparative therapy, bullying, and homelessness, which taught her the value of solidarity and belonging to a community. Before attending Columbia University, Ximena paid her tuition in cash due to FAFSA being denied to undocumented students. To sustain her education, she has worked in varying industries such as manufacturing, retail, travel, and nonprofit. Ximena's favorite experiences were internships at United Airlines which taught her how to be proudly queer in such a corporate setting, and her role in Community Access Unlimited, a nonprofit for the disabled. Ximena prides herself in her volunteer work for her communities; she is a regular Section Leader in New York's Pride March and a regular translator for the New York Immigration Coalition. Since attending Columbia, Ximena is involved in the creation of the school's first formal undocumented student group.