Always Be Authentic

Andrea Valeria Duarte-Alonso

Introduce yourself! Who are you?
I’m a young person who decided to return to her hometown to continue unfinished work in a storytelling project and to engage with my community. I’m a huge believer in creating change with the power of the people! When I’m not being involved with the community, I’m doing my best to learn more by reading books written by womxn of color and writing pieces that are either journalist and/or creative. 

Did you always know what you wanted to do as a career?
Not at all! Growing up I had different dreams of what I wanted to do growing up. And then college happened and I mainly studied the topics that interested me. Now, months after graduation I still believe I’m figuring out the answer to this question. Fortunately, I strongly believe that it’s okay not to have one career your entire life, but rather dip into your passions when the timing feels right.

What is one thing no one really knows about you?
I think I’m an open book for the most part. Most of my friends know many things about me but sometimes I don’t open up too much about some of my passions and interests because I’m afraid that if I speak up about something then my dreams of these won’t become true. I’ve learned though that bringing things into the presence does help with making things into a reality and also with making connections with others.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Always be authentic no matter what others might think of you. Most of the time being authentic and genuine takes you a long way.

What would you say to 16 year old you?
Your hard work, your dedication, and your love to learn more has made you so strong, so resilient, and a badass— I know it’s so hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel but what you’re doing, is beyond incredible and will do you well in the future🙌🏼. Not many said this, but mija, I’m so damn proud of you.

Have you ever had anyone doubt you? How did that make you feel?
Yes! Continuously, I have been either directly and indirectly told. While it hurts at the beginning, I stand up straight, push my shoulders back, and power talk to myself, “This is the real you. This is what you want. Only you know what’s best. Go for it.”

What message do you think every woman should hear?
I recently read a Teen Vogue article where the writer is talking to Alicia Keys and it is so good. I recommend going off to read and reflect right after. My reflection took me to say, “I am the one who lives in my experiences. I don’t need to be validated nor erased. So, build the confidence, love yourself, and make that bold move on a decision you’ve been thinking way too long about.”

Have you always had confidence in yourself?
As much as I’d love to say yes it’s a hard no for me. Much of my confidence starts with the outside of me — my body. The media has constantly reminded me that my curvy body is not beautiful until most recently. Often times as a woman our intelligence is doubted and that is another part of me that lacks confidence! But we can only continue to work on our confidence through empowerment from our friends, online community, and with ourselves.

What do you love most about yourself?
I truly love that I never give up even when I really want too and that I love exploring new interests and travels.

Do you remember a specific time you overcame adversity?
As a first-generation American and college student, there were definitely moments that I had to overcome in order to continue moving along in my journey. Growing up in rural communities, there were not many opportunities for me to expand on what the path to college is and my parents didn’t know anything about it as well so it was hard to navigate this path and I also had to manage most of it all on my own.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?
Do not do things on your own! Do not be afraid to ask for help!

What motivates you most?
The possibility of what my life can turn out to be, but most importantly, my family.

How do you manage your work-life balance?
In college, I was so good at this. I used Google calendar, a personal print calendar, broke down my times of what to do and when to do them. Now that I’ve graduated it’s not the same. I’m still learning and figuring it out.

What do you do on a daily basis to grow and move forward?
While I can say essential oils and journaling (which I do use), I’d also say small tidy acts around my life also help one grow and move forward, such as cleaning my room, journaling, reflecting, and so on!

Do you have a mentor? If so, what did they teach you?
Yes! I so believe in the power and importance of mentors. I’ve had mentors who constantly remind me to stretch my horizons and to give different opportunities a try.

What is one thing people would be surprised to hear about you?
If I could spend the rest of my life living in a small town writing away, I would. I’m the happiest when I’m near nature, loved ones, and a good book or notebook. I also strongly encourage there to be more remote jobs in government, community engagement, journalism, and creative outlets.

If you weren’t doing the job you have now, what would you be doing?
I would most likely be on the East Coast working for a politician or at a writing job!

Who is your biggest role model? Why?
I have so many different passions that within each passion I have different role models. I look up to many womxn of color in politics, journalism, creative writing, and more. When I see their faces, what they’re about, and their love and success for an outlet that has not always been for us–that’s so powerful and inspiring to me, and I hope to be like all of them someday.

Where do you find inspiration?
When I was in college I found inspiration in the music that I grew up with in my Mexican household. I love music and listening to language and rhythms that I’m most familiar with, but I also find inspiration in the writings from Latinx and Black womxn poets and authors!

What are your biggest passions?
I’m so passionate about social justice issues, in the people power of making change, and in storytelling.

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Andrea Valeria Duarte-Alonso

Andrea V. Duarte-Alonso is a recent graduate from St. Catherine University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in political science, women’s studies, and English. She is involved in social justice work, womxn & Latinx empowerment, and civic engagement. While Andrea enjoys working with people and for the people, she also likes to hideaway in her space to release her creativeness and thoughts on paper. In the most recent years, she has become passionate about storytelling and the impact it can have on individuals and on the culture. Andrea emphasizes rural communities and immigrants in storytelling and in her personal writing.

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