Marisol Jimenez Speaks to Hearts and Minds in Latinx Heritage Month Keynote

Marisol Jimenez at LHM keynote address

NC State’s Latinx Heritage Month celebration brought Marisol Jimenez to campus as this year’s keynote speaker on Wednesday, September 20, 2017 in the Coastal Ballroom of Talley Student Union. Entitled “Ni de Aquí/Ni de Allá: Finding Roots in Community, Ancestors and Activism,” her presentation spoke to students, faculty and staff about the importance of being rooted in one’s history to create a stronger legacy for one’s community.

With degrees in psychology and social work, Jimenez has served as the advocacy director for El Pueblo, a North Carolina statewide advocacy organization that worked on public policy issues at the local, state and national levels; steering committee member of the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform National Strategy Council; racial equity training director for OpenSource Leadership Strategies, Inc., a national consulting firm committed to amplifying the work of social justice organizations; and head of her own consulting firm, Tepeyac Consulting, with which she has worked for the Center for Participatory change and the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.

Student Sidney Uriarte, a junior majoring in civil engineering with a minor in Spanish, reflects on her impressions of the event.

Sidney UriarteNot knowing what Marisol was going to say was probably the most nerve-wracking and hopeful thing I’ve felt in the past week. Knowing that keynote speakers can either go incredibly well or tragically bad, I really wanted it to go well. The closer it got to her presenting, the more my blood pressure rose with anticipation.

When she began talking, I instantly knew she felt right. The way she took notice of how her parents came together and the story that made her who she was even before she was born was one I could relate to. Being Latinx encompasses so many beautiful aspects of being of a part of a culture that is always new yet comforting. Although we don’t all have the same stories nor the same background/experiences, there are always some things that will always feel “right” and relatable. From not knowing her place as a “Latina” because of her appearance, to preserving her ancestry through faith and struggling to get her voice in a space dominated by white men who want nothing but failure out of her, Marisol said many things I could relate to. From the way she’s connected with her roots, knew when it was time for her to make a change, and then coming to peace with the struggles she’s overcome, I thoroughly appreciated her as a keynote speaker.

“One thing that is critical for our community is to start unpacking our dynamics and how we’ve internalized power, privilege and oppression.”

From the very first breath, Marisol was like nothing I would have expected. Her voice gave grounded reassurance to my existence. Her inspiring words advocated for the feelings we have in this current climate. After addressing the cultural and spiritual journeys in her life, she addressed the political. It was a great reminder to not only be together with all Latinx people, but all Black people too. There is always propaganda that is going to divide us, from DACA to correcting the judicial system and powers of oppression. It can’t just be one group of people. It’s all or nothing.

Sidney Uriarte, ’18 is a student coordinator in Multicultural Student Affairs.