Loyola University Chicago

College of Arts & Sciences

Cristina Nunez

See how a Loyola degree helped them succeed

Recent college graduates face fierce competition for jobs and positions in graduate and professional schools. Here are four members of Loyola's Class of 2019 who definitely stand out from the crowd.

Image

I’m glad I got to mix my academic world and my personal identities and make that popping.

Cristina Nunez

Major: Women’s and Gender Studies and History
Minor: Political science
Post-graduate plans: Teaching preschool with Teach for America

What are your post-graduation plans?

I am going to be teaching preschool with Teach for America. I’m really looking forward to making all the theory I learned accessible to younger students. I’m looking forward to introducing queer theory, post-colonial theories, and in general, women of color and feminism. Educational equity is a big issue, especially in Chicago with all of the school closings affecting a lot of low-income communities and people of color. They have a right to learn and they have a right to quality education, but also their own lives can be more liberating than they can imagine through gender, sexuality, race, and class. I’m looking forward to making sure they can see or visualize a future they really want. 

How do you teach those theories to children?

I think it aligns with letting them play and experiment freely without imposing things that have been socialized inside of us. I think it gives kids the freedom to be kids but also full humans. Showing them open displays of emotion when they are learning what emotions are and letting them play with anything they want to play with. Children are very capable of advanced thought. Talk to them directly about what social justice means and how they fit into that, but they already have so much knowledge about that.

Talk about your accomplishments at Loyola and what you’re the most proud of.

I think I am the proudest of being one of the few brown or queer, or combination of the two, in both of my majors at Loyola. For me it was really important to not only be excellent but also be my full authentic self.  I’m glad I got to mix my academic world and my personal identities and make that popping. I’m graduating with honors in both of my majors so that’s a really big accomplishment for me because I did that without losing who I was. 

How has being a student at Loyola helped you get where you are today?

Personally, I am not religious, but I think the value of a Jesuit education is very impactful and for me it was a lot about of the tenants of what Loyola is supposed to be about. We’re supposed to care about the whole person and serve communities and care for ourselves as complete people with empathy. I know people at other universities who do not get that hammered into them and for me that had a lasting impact in how I wanted to serve these communities. Instead of thinking I am going to save others, I think they are already in the process of saving themselves and I’m just there to help them in that process. The STARS (Students Together Are Reaching Success) program was a big source of community for me and I don’t know if I would have stayed at Loyola without it. I think I learned how to love myself and value myself. And how to market and make myself successful at Loyola with that program while also being in touch with people who look like me and people who push me to think more radically than I ever did.

Do you have any advice for students graduating next year?

Think about what is going to make you feel good. You can feel a lot of pressure to go straight into a grad school to prove your intelligence or feel a lot of pressure to get your dream job right out of undergrad, and I think that is incredibly unrealistic. I think that especially for marginalized students any college program can be incredibly draining. If we follow the path of what makes us looks good in other people’s eyes, it’s never going to be the radical underfunded places or jobs that encourage the change you want to create. It’s not sustainable to want to live up to the very biased ideas of success. I think it’s important for marginalized people all over the world to start carving out our own path that will look a lot different from what we’re told success looks like.