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Biochemistry major Vanessa Devereaux takes pride in her Latino culture

Vanessa Devereaux

Sophomore Vanessa Devereaux hopes to introduce the DU community to mariachi music. Photo: Michael Richmond

Before Vanessa Devereaux was crowned 2005 Colorado State Fair Fiesta Queen last April, she was asked to articulate
the issues that burden and encumber the Latino community.

Devereaux, a sophomore biochemistry major, delivered a bilingual speech in which she addressed the loss of culture
and native language among American Latinos: “I believe education is the answer,” she said. “It is the great equalizer.”

Devereaux learned to seek windows of opportunity at an early age. She left her home in San Luis, Colo., at 13 to attend
the Denver School of the Arts.

“It was the first time being away from my family. But I wanted to go, and my parents were behind me 100 percent,” Devereaux says. “My years at Denver School of the Arts opened my eyes to the world. I was exposed to diversity of race, religion and even sexual orientation. I began to see differences as a gift.”

Along with her violin, Devereaux brought her passion for mariachi — Spanish folk music — an art that embodies more than a cultural obligation to her.

“Mariachi is something you feel,” she says. “It’s so personal, so moving. It calms my soul.”

Devereaux credits her musical training for her 3.95 grade point average. “Music improves quantitative thinking,” she explains.

In an effort to share her passion, Devereaux hopes to introduce the DU community to mariachi — not as an extracurricular activity but as a credited music course.

Her idea resonates with Jesus Trevino, associate provost for Multicultural Excellence.

“I work with highly talented students to encourage them to use their talents to enhance the University campus,” Trevino says. “Vanessa is making a contribution. She takes pride in her Latino ethnicity.”

Devereaux envisions returning to her hometown to practice medicine one day.

“I appreciate everyone who supported me,” Devereaux says. “And I want to give back to my community.”


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