BOONE, N.C. — Growing up in an immigrant family, Appalachian State University senior Nataly Jimenez said she watched her parents and extended family encounter hardship on a daily basis. The experience inspired her goal to become an immigration lawyer, advocating for the rights of families like her own.
A first-generation college student, Jimenez is enrolled in App State’s Honors College and is majoring in sociology-criminology, deviance and law, with a minor in psychology. Jimenez chose her fields of study to help her understand how cultures interact with one another and within society, as well as a basis for law school, she said.
Jimenez is also a Wilson Scholar — which she said was a key incentive in choosing App State. The scholarship provided full institutional costs for four years, plus funds for travel and other expenses.
Jimenez said her experiences at App State — both in and out of the classroom — strengthen her role as an immigration advocate, as she:
- Serves as a student representative for the Immigrant Mountaineers Movement — one of the 2020 Chancellor’s Innovation Scholars initiatives. Through this initiative, Jimenez helps prepare and co-lead presentations designed to engage the Mountaineer community on how to advocate for immigrants on campus.
- Serves as an undergraduate research assistant to Dr. Felicia Arriaga, studying immigrant migration patterns to the U.S. and its territories. Arriaga is an assistant professor in App State’s Department of Sociology and has served as Jimenez’s mentor.
- Serves on the Chancellor’s Student Advisory Board for Diversity Recruitment, through which she shares her suggestions for diversity initiatives on App State’s campus.
- Traveled to the U.S.–Mexico border region as an Alternative Service Experience (ASE) in fall 2018, where she witnessed the border crisis firsthand and volunteered to work with La Union del Pueblo Entero, a social services organization in San Juan, Texas.
- Traveled to Costa Rica with the Wilson Scholars in spring 2019, where she learned about the country’s culture and interviewed immigrants from Nicaragua about their experiences and daily lives.
Jimenez, who is of Mexican descent, said she loved traveling to Costa Rica and being in an environment where Spanish was the main language. Still, she said she and her peers experienced a little “culture shock” on the trip.
“The experience really helped me understand how immigrants who are coming to America may feel when they are in an unfamiliar place,” Jimenez shared.
Her involvement with the Immigrant Mountaineer Movement, as well as seminars within the Honors College, has increased her knowledge about immigration and racial justice, and has given her the opportunity to discuss issues with others, Jimenez said.
“We’re not told what to think but are encouraged to come up with our own opinions and back them up,” she added.
Jimenez said she was drawn to App State as a prospective student because of the “vibe” she felt when visiting. “Everyone was so kind and willing to help me. I appreciated the initiatives for diversity, and I wanted to be a part of what is happening at App State,” she said.
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About the Department of Sociology
The Department of Sociology offers a Bachelor of Arts and seven Bachelor of Science concentrations (applied research methods; criminology; families and intimate relationships; health and aging; power and social change; social inequalities; and individually designed, which requires departmental approval). The department also offers minors in sociology and health and aging, plus two online graduate certificates: aging, health and society, and sociology. Learn more at https://soc.appstate.edu.
About the College of Arts and Sciences
The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) at Appalachian State University is home to 17 academic departments, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. CAS aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university's strengths, traditions and unique location. The college’s values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of its students as global citizens. More than 6,400 student majors are enrolled in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing App State’s general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at https://cas.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the Southeast, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives. App State is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System, with a national reputation for innovative teaching and opening access to a high-quality, affordable education for all. The university enrolls more than 21,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and 80 graduate majors at its Boone and Hickory campuses and through App State Online. Learn more at https://www.appstate.edu.