Meet Alumni Leadership Committee Member, Felicia Arriaga

“For me, the project is a valuable resource where the stories of immigrants and those working with immigrants can be easily accessed.”

The Latino Migration Project (LMP) is pleased to announce the creation of a new alumni leadership committee that will help ensure the legacy of LMP’s work in the coming years. Committee members will advise and coordinate with the LMP team on communication, upcoming events, and growth goals.

We first met Felicia Arriaga as the LMP ambassador, and now are so delighted to introduce her as a founding committee member.

Q: Felicia, thank you so much for joining us! First, please tell us more about yourself.
A: I’m from Hendersonville, NC and I’ve lived in Durham for the past 7 years, attending Duke University. I’m a third year PhD student in Sociology and I study the use of federal immigration enforcement at the local level of the criminal justice system.

Q: Tell us more about brought you to the Latino Migration Project. How did the experience impact you?
A: I think I read Mai Thi Nguyen and Hannah Gill’s report on 287(g) programs in the fall of 2013 while trying to put together a literature review for my proposed dissertation research. It was a fortunate coincidence that they are both here at UNC. After a little bit of research, I discovered that Hannah taught a really interesting course and as a graduate student I had the option of taking courses at UNC-CH, NC State, and NCCU. Unfortunately, there is not an immigration course offered in my home department, but I contacted Hannah to see if she would allow me to enroll in the Global Guanajuato course. I was able to participate in the course in the spring of 2014 and then I became the TA in the spring of 2015. I have learned so much about UNC students, about Guanajuato, about teaching, and so much more. This really is a great project where students can learn about the local and the global.

Q: What do you tell your friends when they ask you about your experiences in Guanajuato? What’s your favorite memory?
A: Well, the first year I went to Guanajuato, I was definitely impressed by La Fundacion. When I was able to return this past spring, I was impressed by the progress they had made in Trancas. We were able to have movie nights with the youth in the new community center and we got to spend time with members of the neighborhood association. This year when we traveled to Mineral de Pozos, we were able to see the variety of projects being supported by La Fundacion. Another fun memory is the photo shoot that occurs near this old van in Pozos, courtesy of Michele from La Fundacion.

Q: What does the Latino Migration Project mean to you? Why should others care or get involved?
A: There are so many aspects of the Latino Migration Project that I can use in my teaching and community work. For me, the project is a valuable resource where the stories of immigrants and those working with immigrants can be easily accessed. I had the opportunity to conduct four oral histories for New Roots with Latino/a educators in North Carolina who are actively working to promote Latino/a student success. In many regards they were pioneers in the K-12 teaching profession and I think it’s important to raise up their stories and to recognize challenges that still exist in our education system for Latino/a students.

Q: When you’re not pursuing your PhD, what do you enjoy doing?
A: I love meeting new people so I try to go to a lot of different events, rallies, etc. I think it energizes me to know there are so many great groups out there working for social justice. I really enjoy being secluded without access to internet, facebook, etc. We don’t have internet at my house in Hendersonville, NC and growing up I thought it was a pain, but now it’s a blessing. I try to spend as much time with my familly and friends when I go home, and during the summer that means going swimming, hiking.

Thank you so much, Felicia! We look forward to a great year!

Meet Alumni Leadership Committee Member, Felicia Arriaga