Ms. Maritzelena Chirinos – Using Her Passion to Make an Impact on Her Community

College Graduation Series

Interview by Alyzia McAlmon

Ms. Maritzelena Chirinos has used her goals and passion to make an impact on her community. As a DACA recipient and activist, Maritzelena was chosen to present her research thesis, An Identity Crisis: The Identity Development of DREAMers Post-DACA Termination, at the Southern Sociological Society Conference in New Orleans, LA. Maritzelena has discovered her best self and shared her brilliance with many throughout her four year journey as an undergraduate student at Meredith College. Her participation in Sube Ritmo, a Latin dance team at NC State, as well as Mi Familia, a Latinx student organization at NC State have allowed her to network and advocate for what she truly believes in. Maritzelena will be receiving her B.A in Criminology and Sociology and hopes to move forward in achieving her goal of earning her Ph.D in Sociology one day.

What inspired you to write your thesis on the topic you chose?

Since the rescinding of DACA directly impacted me, I wanted to learn more about how it impacted other DACA recipients. My friends wanted me to educate them more on what was happening and so I realized that doing this research would be able to educate others as well.

What school are you graduating from? What will you be earning a degree in?

I am graduating from Meredith College and will earn a Bachelors of Arts degree  in Criminology and Sociology.

What extracurricular activities did you participate in?

I was in an a cappella group and chorale my first two years. I was a part of the criminology club and I was the president of the association of cultural awareness club. I am a part of the Latin dance team at NC State called Sube Ritmo and I am a part of Mi Familia at NC State, which is the Latinx organization on campus.

What was the toughest obstacle you had to overcome as a college student?

Balancing social life, academics, working part time, and interning all while maintaining my sanity.

What are your goals and aspirations after graduation? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I aspire to get my PhD in sociology and do research on minority populations, specifically undocumented immigrants. I would also like to work for non-profits that are Black owned. In 5 years I see myself working in Washington D.C. for the government and specifically working on criminal justice or immigration reform.

How have you grown as a person over the last 4 years?

I am more focused on my future and what I can do as an undocumented Latina to help others like myself and other minority populations. I am more focused on the bigger picture and how to make a bigger impact in this country through educating others on issues that affect people of color the most.

How has your perspective on the world changed since graduating from high school? Life? Student U?     

There are more boundaries that I am aware of due to my immigration status. There is a lot of work to do and social justice issues have become a priority for me. I am glad that Student U has given me the skills to go out and be the change that I wish to see in my community.

If you could give a student in the Class of 2022 one piece of advice as they prepare to attend college in the fall, what would it be?

College is all about getting to know yourself better. It’s okay to be lost and it’s okay to lose friends and lose touch with people who used to mean a lot to you. It’s okay to be selfish and to focus on your goals and what you want to do in this world. At the end of the day, those who love you and believe in you will be there at the finish line.

Want to get in touch with Ms. Maritzelena? Or learn more about her work? Here is how:

Learn more or contact at LinkedIn: 


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