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Student Profile: Anahí Ponce

Last Updated on November 04, 2019 at 12:00 AM

Originally published November 04, 2019

By UC Staff

UTEP Communications

Anahí Ponce is a senior English and American literature major who aspires to enter politics after completing her degree. She feels enriched by her experiences at UTEP and is elated to see the campus' rise in national stature.

Anahí Ponce is a senior English and American literature major who aspires to enter politics after completing her degree. She feels enriched by her experiences at UTEP and is elated to see the campus' rise in national stature. Photo by Ivan Pierre Aguirre / UTEP Communications
Anahí Ponce is a senior English and American literature major who aspires to enter politics after completing her degree. She feels enriched by her experiences at UTEP and is elated to see the campus' rise in national stature. Photo by Ivan Pierre Aguirre / UTEP Communications

Name: Anahí Ponce

Classification: Senior

Major: English and American literature

What high school did you graduate from? When? Captain John L. Chapin High School, 2016

What drew you to UTEP? The University’s rich culture and community of support is what drew me most to UTEP. My mother made the courageous decision to pursue higher education after having already started a family. At a young age, I remember my mother bringing my brother and I to her classes with her whenever she could not find a sitter. It was at this young age, that I was exposed to the UTEP environment, and the students who, like my mother, were working class, often times also pursuing higher education as a means to better support their families. It is because of the University’s support for its students, and its dedication to access and excellence, that I knew that UTEP would be the perfect fit for me to continue my academic career.

What have you enjoyed most about studying here? Studying at UTEP has afforded me the chance to enrich and further my academic career in a place that is both home and is surrounded by people who both look and live like me. The University itself has always elicited a sense of acceptance, that has been a constant comfort throughout my time here. There is not another university that I could have possibly imagined myself being at, and that could have possibly provided the opportunities that I have been able to take advantage of. As my time at UTEP comes to an end, I cannot help but think of how much I have grown as an academic and as a person since enrolling. It is because of this, that I am most appreciative for being able to study here, and for being able to find myself along the way.

In which extracurricular activities are you involved? I currently sit as the vice president of the Liberal Arts Honors Program at UTEP, I am the deputy director of marketing for the El Paso County Democrats, I am the founder and director of Chicas De Chuco (a community organization dedicated to promoting activism amongst El Paso womxn), I am a Texas Civic Ambassador through the Annette Strauss Institute, and I am a Mellon fellow under the HSI Pathways to the Professoriate Program at UTEP.

What’s your favorite place to relax or study on campus? My favorite place to relax and study on campus is in the Chemistry and Computer Science Building. Why might an English major be in the computer science building you ask? The answer for this is directly rooted in the fact that the Starbucks is in this building. Although it is far walk from the English building (Hudspeth Hall), I always find myself in computer science going to grab a cup of coffee, and to begin drafting any number of essays for my English classes.

What has been your favorite class so far, and why? My favorite class has been African American literature, taught under my mentor Dr. Marion Rohrleitner. This class allowed my peers and I to better understand the impact of slavery on American institutions, government, and politics, through the application of literature and how literature is in direct conversation with social justice movements. Overall, this class was refreshing in that it always provoked intensive and well-needed conversations about race in the United States. Additionally, the class forced myself and my peers to ask ourselves what we as students can take from both history and literature, to put the events of today into context. Some of the groundbreaking texts we read in this class included James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of  a Slave Girl, Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, and a variety of other revolutionary works.

Tell us about a hands-on learning experience you’ve had at UTEP? My learning experience at UTEP goes beyond the classroom. Since being a student here I have been afforded many life-changing opportunities, including working for a U.S. Congressman, working with local organizations to improve civic engagement, becoming a Texas Civic Ambassador, and working on campus in positions that allowed me to assist both online students through UTEP Connect, and migrant farmworker students through the College Assistance Migrant Program. All of these opportunities allowed me to step out of my comfort zone, and to see on a first-hand basis the various experiences of UTEP students and members of the community that differed from my own. All of these experiences have been extremely humbling and have reaffirmed my decision to build my career centered around the distinct goal of helping others.

Tell us about undergraduate research opportunities you’ve taken advantage of at UTEP? This year, I have had the privilege of being selected to be a part of UTEP’s third cohort of the HSI Pathways to the Professoriate Fellowship. This program, funded by the Andrew Mellon Foundation, was created in an attempt to prepare undergraduate students in the humanities to pursue a career in the professoriate and better represent the number of Latinx in academia. It is through this program that I was offered multiple resources to apply for graduate school, superb mentorship, and the opportunity to develop and expand my research in Chicanx Activism through Literature. I will be presenting my research project completed through the program, titled: “La Malinchista, La Activista: Non-Traditional Activism in Chicana Literature” at the HSI Pathways Cross Institutional Conference in New Jersey in February of 2020.

What are your career aspirations? I plan on attending graduate school and studying Chicanx literature and activism. After completing my PhD, I hope to teach Chicanx Literature at the collegiate level, while becoming a part of the 2% of Latinas with graduate degrees. I also plan on pursuing a political career, as I hope to run for public office one day and represent the El Paso community in U.S. politics.

What’s your favorite UTEP event, and why? My favorite UTEP event is Minerpalooza. It is an amazing opportunity for UTEP students, alumni, faculty, and members of the community to come together to celebrate our campus and our community. I also particularly like the platform that Minerpalooza affords to student organizations, to connect with, and engage with UTEP students in a fun and informal environment.

What advice would you give to an incoming UTEP student? Take pride in the community! UTEP is truly unlike any other campus in the world, and its diversity and binational culture is what makes it uniquely special. There tends to be this narrative amongst El Pasoans that sometimes portrays the University in a negative connotation, and the phrase, “Anyone can get into UTEP” is often thrown around.  I personally have never thought this phrase to necessarily be a bad thing, as the University allows people who might have never had the means to attend college to do so. The UTEP campus is distinct in its recruitment of first-generation college students, working-class students, and lower-income students to emerge as college graduates and professionals. This University has allowed myself and countless other students the ability to flourish and cultivate our knowledge through access to excellent facilities and resources, highly qualified faculty, and an outstanding community of support. I am forever grateful to have been a student at UTEP, and I highly encourage incoming UTEP students to take pride in being a part of the UTEP family, and to continue to strive to ensure that we are giving back to the community that gives us so much!

What is your best UTEP memory so far? My best UTEP memory so far has been connecting with students from different parts of El Paso, and from different walks of life. Since being a student at UTEP, I have created many friendships in and out of the classroom, that I am sure will last a lifetime. Although we are a diverse community, we are all ultimately connected by our pursuit of higher education, and our will to improve our own personal growth, whether it be related to education or otherwise.  Being a student at UTEP has allowed me to better appreciate the community I call home and has introduced me to individuals who I know will undoubtedly be agents of change and will go on to do amazing things for El Paso, for Texas, and for the world.