Margarita Nuñez Arroyo

Keep learning about yourself and your surroundings

Margarita Nuñez Arroyo is a senior majoring in journalism with a focus on strategic communications and minoring in dance and creative writing. She was born in Mexico, came to the United States as an undocumented immigrant, grew up in Compton, California, and is now a citizen. She wants to attend graduate school after graduating KU.

For me, some of the most formative things in my childhood were books, not being born here, being undocumented, being Latina, my parents, and writing. I was always writing. At first, I didn’t like it, but in the fourth grade, my teacher told me to write what I wanted to write and that was the first time someone told me to write for myself.

My dad always says this thing and in the worst times I say to myself, “If she can, why can’t you?”

I’m not at KU because of the basketball team. I’m not at KU because it has a great journalism school. I’m not at KU because I came to campus and fell in love with it. I’m at KU because my mother sat me down and said that I could go to a school like this.

I wasn’t going to apply to KU, I had a lot of self-doubt. But my mom forced me to apply to KU online. The whole time I was crying and saying, “This is embarrassing. I’m not going to get in.” Then I got in and I couldn’t believe it. And it’s because of people like my mom who believed in me.

I want a doctorate. Less than 2 percent of Latina women have that, and I want to be in that small percentage. I never thought I would be in academia, and I feel that if I think that, my sister’s going to feel that, and all these Latinas are going to feel that. We should be here. We should be in these conversations. If I want to make change and if I want to help my community, I feel like I have to get to a place where I have more agency and I can really engage in these conversations. Maybe one day, I’ll be mentoring a young brown girl who thinks she can’t go into academia and I tell her that she can.

One thing that drives me is my sister. She’s 3-years-old and she’s loud. At KU, I’ve learned things about myself and my culture. When I go home, I dance around really weird and she dances with me. We run around outside, and I encourage her to be loud. When I was young, I was very quiet because that’s what I saw in my parents. When you come here and you are undocumented, you have to be quiet. So when I see her being loud and jumpy, I think that’s beautiful because many of us didn’t grow up like that.

Learn about your roots, go out of your comfort zone, and get a planner.  

Jackson Vickery graduated in May 2017 with a degree in journalism and a minor in film and media studies. Vickery, a second-generation Jayhawk, was born and raised in Dallas, and is the creator of Pop Culture Daily and has been curating the site’s content for two-and-a-half years.