Born and raised in Puerto Rico, my journey to Indiana surprises many, but Purdue is just part of my heritage. Both of my parents and much of my extended family are 100% Puerto Rican, and I have family all over the island. I grew up in Cupey, a pueblo in the San Juan municipality, where I attended an all-Spanish school until fifth grade when I moved to a bilingual school where nearly all my classes were in English. Spanish was intertwined with English in every subject, which allowed me to develop proficiency in another language from a young age. Outside of school, I was able to travel around the island as a competitive swimmer. I loved exploring Puerto Rico and visiting friends and family who lived in different parts.
Schools around San Juan promote going to university, and many students study abroad, looking for higher education outside of the island. I wanted to study in the United States because my school prepared me well for learning in English and would allow me to have better opportunities. Since I graduated during the COVID-19 pandemic, I could not visit any schools in person during that time. My dad graduated from Purdue, so I was familiar with the campus and had spent time here as a teenager for summer camps. After taking virtual tours of other campuses, I still knew Purdue was a place I felt comfortable and familiar coming to. I especially loved the tight-knit, collaborative atmosphere of the Daniels School, where I could grow in my passions and develop meaningful skills for the future. I was thrilled to be accepted as a marketing major and couldn’t wait to get to West Lafayette!
At first, I was excited to leave Puerto Rico and be independent in a new environment. I even had the opportunity to start classes online during that summer for the Business Opportunity Program (BOP) summer session. It’s normally on campus, but we did the program virtually because of COVID. BOP provided a fantastic support system where I immediately formed connections with classmates and mentors. With this experience, I felt ready to make the most of my time at Purdue!
Amid my excitement, I still had to adjust to life in Indiana. I wasn’t used to seasons, so I had to acclimate to changing weather. I had never owned a winter coat or dealt with snow! While it was a big adjustment to the bitter cold and wind, I came to love the change in seasons. Now, one of my favorite activities with my friends is sledding down Slayter Hill with thousands of other Purdue students after a fresh snowfall. Who would have thought?
As I was navigating a change in temperature, I also dealt with feelings of homesickness, so I was excited when I discovered the Puerto Rican Student Association (PRSA)! PRSA was brought back to Purdue during the spring of my sophomore year. After being frozen for many years, a few students decided they wanted to create a community that Puerto Ricans and other Latino students could call home. I was involved from the beginning, and we started putting on awesome activities like open discussion table nights, where we discussed different topics about Puerto Rico that were open to the Purdue community. As our club has grown, we’ve hosted Noche Boricua, or Puerto Rican night. Both years, we’ve had food from a local Puerto Rican chef (we love her!), a live band playing Spanish songs, and an alumni DJ who performs original Spanish music. We also run a parranda, a Puerto Rican musical tradition that happens during Christmas. Last year, a group of students participated in the parranda, going right through the heart of campus! I now serve as president of PRSA, and I love leading our community as we invite Purdue to experience Puerto Rican food, music, and culture!
While my experiences at Purdue have been overwhelmingly positive, creating awareness for Latino and Puerto Rican heritage is very important to me. Here in the States, there isn’t a general knowledge of Latin American countries and their unique cultures. As a Puerto Rican, I’m proud to express my heritage and showcase our flag and traditions on campus. I can interact with fellow Puerto Ricans, and we can share our traditions with others, and then they can teach us something about theirs, too. Here at Purdue, we have so many students with incredibly unique backgrounds, so I love spending time interacting with our diverse community!
My passion for learning about other cultures led me to pursue a concentration in International Business, where I can travel, learn how other countries work, and use my bilingualism to help organizations run more effectively. Last fall, I had the opportunity to study abroad at the City University of London at the Bayes Business School. I learned a ton, and it helped me see how I can use my heritage as a native Spanish speaker to open doors and experience the world.
I’m so excited for the rest of my time here at Purdue. As a student, I’ve been challenged to reach new academic heights, share my culture with others, and interact with a diverse student body that represents ideas from all around the world. I can’t wait to dive into this community further this year! I’m so proud to be Puerto Rican and a Boilermaker!