Every year, Winona State has a University Theme that promotes partnerships and conversations between faculty, staff, students, and community members about important issues.
For the 2020-21 academic year, the theme is “My Global Identity, Our Global Community.” This year’s theme is all about acknowledging, reflecting, and celebrating our rich global history and opportunities.
“My Global Identity, Our Global Community” also builds awareness of the plurality of global identities through experiential learning opportunities in our community.
In honor of this year’s theme, WSU alumni are sharing their stories about how they discovered and defined who they were. Meet our second volunteer writer, Andrea Guerrero Leon:
I moved to Winona in 2014 after graduating high school from my home country Venezuela. I began my journey at WSU as an English Language Center (ELC) student. Although my English wasn’t perfect, my professors, classmates and friends helped me become fluent through conversations.
I had the opportunity to meet and build friendships with people from many different countries. We learned a lot from each other’s cultures while also learning English.
After graduating from the ELC, I started my higher education journey as a nursing candidate. But even though I enjoyed taking science classes, I had a feeling the profession wasn’t for me. So, I decided to change my major to Mass Communication out of my interest in visual communication.
During my undergraduate studies, I developed a strong passion for social justice. I was confident this was the field I wanted to grow in as a professional.
In 2016, I volunteered as a mentor for HOPE Academy, a residential program for underrepresented high school students to experience college life. I mentored students from a variety of ethnicities, religions, and sexual orientation.
I’m extremely grateful to have learned from their experiences as black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), as well as expand my own knowledge of social justice issues.
I also volunteered as an International Student Ambassador that same year. I connected with students with diverse cultures and languages I wasn’t familiar with, while helping them navigate college life and a new culture.
My identity as a Latina has solidified through the years as I interacted and built relationships with members of the Latino community.
Gaining a stronger sense of my identity has given me the strength to advocate not only for my community, but also for other underprivileged populations.
After graduating with my B.A in 2018, I decided that I wanted to pursue a master’s degree in counseling. I was awarded a Graduate Assistantship position in the Adult & Continuing Education department to finance my studies, which I’m still appreciative of to this day.
Because of the Counselors Education program, I was inspired to become more involved in social justice conversations, as well as those of advocacy. This program also motivated me to better understand the impact that these issues have on youth mental health.
I want to continue advocating for BIPOC as a mental health counselor. I especially want to work with children and adolescents of color and help them navigate obstacles in society. My journey at Winona State led me to my dream field, and I couldn’t be more excited for what’s to come.