Building a Strong Community – Itzel Zuniga

“I entered Meredith College with dual enrollment from Bladen Community College. I completed all of my general education credits and got first-hand experience on how college would be, which I feel gave me an upper hand.

I chose a women’s college in order to truly empower myself throughout my college experience alongside my classmates, coworkers, and friends. I have become more independent and furthered my academic knowledge, and realized my value as a woman in today’s society.

Being a first-generation student, it was extremely difficult for my parents to let me attend college in the first place. But once I was finally here at Meredith, my friends allowed me to really open up and understand how to juggle college, personal life, mental health, and more. My success coach was another person who helped me stay in college and would check up on me, which I always appreciated.

The people here at Meredith have shaped me into a better person than I was. My supervisors have been a delight to work alongside and have given me every opportunity to enhance my learning skills at my job in Technology Services. My advisor has also allowed me to feel welcomed and heard in the interior design program and made me feel like I am always in a safe space when I’m around them.

As for my friends here at Meredith, I met them through my interior design classes and a club called LaFe, a branch of InterVarsity specifically for students who identify as Latinas. I was able to experience true friendship and knowledgeable advice as to how to better myself academically and even personally. I am also a member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) program here at the College – they provide useful and knowledgeable information for future interior designers.

With my major in interior design, I want to focus on providing further accessibility and sustainability in order to help our community and promote designs for those who aren’t being stood up for in the design field. We always focus on designing a space with accessibility requirements, including 5′ turnarounds spaces for clients in wheelchairs, ramps, power-assisted doors, etc. As for sustainability, the main idea would be using eco-friendly materials. Considering how well these have affected the structure and components of a building, I want to give more than the “basics” for a space. I want to include these design necessities for communities and environments that lack them. I would love to further explore how to make spaces more accessible through extended research as it relies on a community’s well-being and its infrastructure.

One of the challenges I’ve experienced at Meredith was embracing my culture and identity in a primarily white institution (PWI). Being a first-generation student at a four-year college was definitely one of the things that had me extremely nervous. But, being in a PWI made me even more nervous. Luckily I was able to overcome some challenges, embrace my culture, and represent where I come from through my passion and the love I have for it.

Adaptability is my favorite strength because of how it has been put into effect throughout my college years. When there are things that don’t go my way or if something difficult begins to occur, I stay productive regardless of what occurred. I like to work around something difficult in order to have a successful finish to any project or situation that I find myself in. It’s something I plan on incorporating in my professional career as a way to maintain productivity and distinguish my willingness to complete any necessities in the given moment.”

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