Sergio Juarez

Sergio Juarez. Photo by Wayne Armstrong

Sergio Juarez. Photo by Wayne Armstrong

HOMETOWN: Santa Barbara, Calif.

FIELD OF STUDY: PhD student in communication studies, focusing on intercultural communication

ACTIVITIES: Latina/o Graduate Association; Colorado Progressive Coalition

Tell us about yourself.

I grew up in a Mexican community, and I witnessed injustices that impacted my family and friends. These memories and experiences drive a lot of my work today. My family originates from Jalisco, Mexico. Both my parents were farmers and migrated here without documents, but they’ve found success with a limited education. From my parents, I learned about work ethic, courageousness and kindness. Their work ethic is something I hope to emulate. I have seen each of them work two jobs, while still finding time to spend with my sisters and me. They are courageous because of the risk they took coming to a country where they did not know the language and did not have a job. They have become homeowners, are self-employed and at one point owned a store. And their spirits are unbelievable. They are not only hard workers, but kind as well — from helping people on the street to helping their friends through difficult times to sending money to family in Mexico, they help those around them. Those attributes have helped me become who I am today and help me in my pursuit of academic equality.


What are you studying? What type of career do you hope to have?

My academic work is focused on intercultural communication. I’m particularly focused on social justice issues and how they affect the Latina/o community. I’m working toward creating a dissertation project involving undocumented students on higher education campuses. My interest in this major and career are to be an activist in higher education and the community.


What diversity-related activities are you involved in — on and off campus? Why these groups?

On campus I’m involved with the Latina/o Graduate Association. The goal of the group is to create an inclusive space where Latina/o students can come together for support socially and academically. If we can lay the groundwork for this group, we can create a space for Latina/os to voice their thoughts and opinions. And there is also opportunity to take leadership roles and gain experience in these roles. Off campus, I have been involved with different organizations. Most of my time has been with Colorado Progressive Coalition as a hotline volunteer for the Racial Justice Hotline. This has been a great experience in better understanding the racial dynamics between police officers and the communities of color in Denver.


Has your DU experience changed your thinking about diversity?

I now better understand how intersections of sexuality, ability and gender play a role in creating exclusive environments in our communities. Working with colleagues, I have better understood how identifying as an able-bodied cisgender heterosexual male offers me privileges I am not always aware of and benefit from.


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