Pursuing a higher education comes with difficulties of various shapes and sizes for many students. That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to go through it alone. Abby Chicas, a returning Clark student, voices this sentiment with a warm smile as she sits on a plump beige couch in the Diversity Center common room. This is Chicas’ second year as a peer mentor for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Chicas and her younger sister moved from El Salvador four years ago to receive a better education and live with their mom. Although Chicas originally planned to return after high school, she instead decided to stay and continue her education at Clark.
“I missed my food and my family,” Chicas says. “I got used to being here, but I still miss a lot of things from my country.”
Being relatively new to the English language at the time, Chicas recalls feeling nervous when she started coming to Clark in 2019. However, she quickly found a home at the Diversity Center where peer mentors Miguel Viveros and Rosalba Pitkin explained enrollment and other college procedures to her in Spanish, and provided encouragement and support.
“I feel [that] to see someone who looks like me and speaks the same language means a lot,” Chicas says. “I like to help people like me. Miguel and Rosalba helped me a lot and that’s what I want to be for new students, to connect students to Clark.”
With plans to complete her Associate in Arts general transfer degree by the end of spring, Chicas is currently applying to enroll in Clark’s dental hygiene program next year. She also hopes to one day teach in the program.
Peer mentors can be found at the Diversity Center, open in-person on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Open Zoom conferences are held Thursdays from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89409076145 (Meeting ID: 894 0907 6145). You can also reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Indy interviewed Chicas during the first week of fall to hear from students as Clark resumed in-person classes. Other articles can be found in our Student Sketch series.