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Anaïs Gurrola

Anaïs Gurrola '19

Class Year: 2019
Hometown: Bellevue, Washington
Major: Sociology and Anthropology
Minor: Ethnic Studies
Extracurriculars: Spanish Club, Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement (IME), Gente Latina Unida (GLU)
Overseas study: Alicante, Spain

What three words would you use to describe L&C?

Hidden, loving, critical

“I realized that I bring value to this school, and I want prospective students to know that they belong here.”
What’s your favorite class? How has it expanded your knowledge?

One foundational class would be Introduction to Sociology with Maryann Bylander, who is also my advisor. That class really convinced me to become a SoAn major. It showed me the institutional and structural forces that perpetuate inequality. It really allowed me to see how inequality works. I learned that sociology was all about making the familiar strange, and I love that. I began to look at the society we lived in and started to see little quirks and began to question why exactly things are the way they are. The class was also interactive, it wasn’t just lecturing. I remember one time we played a game to show the structural inequality of the United States.

I also took International Migration with Maryann Bylander. We read this book called The Land of the Open Graves. It was so impactful and emotional. It shed light on migrational practices and atrocities that often go unsaid and try to be hidden (cough cough prevention by deterrence, I’m looking at you). Everyone needs to read it.

I know you said one class but there are so many good ones. Last one, I promise! Last semester I took The Anthropology of Suffering with Sepideh Bajracharya, and it was an important class. I took the class because I heard incredible things about Sepideh, and I completely understand why so many people love her. That class really challenged me and made me question the world and pain itself. I was pushed not only intellectually but in other areas of my life. I was able to connect my experiences with the class, I began to see theory in aspects that felt taboo, or too painful to reach out and look at, to touch. The curriculum had people of color, women of color, and queer women, which is so important when the majority of bourgeois academia contains a disproportionate amount of white voices. One of my favorite theorists we read was Gloria Anzaldúa, who wrote about life as a Latina women and a queer women. Her work on borders, cultural identity, language, intergenerational trauma, mytho-historical symbols and art had such an impact on me, and it continues. I loved her so much that I wrote my final paper on her work, and her theory lives and thrives today. I also really enjoyed the book Sepideh assigned us, Life Beside Itself, which completely reframed my thoughts on death. Righteous Dopefiend also transformed my way of thinking of houseless people and addiction. Even though this class was about suffering, it was healing.

“The Ray Warren Symposium acts as a catalyst each year to remind students of their privilege, but also bring great minds and conversations together.”
What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?

There is a fly-in program called Pioneer Weekend that is geared toward people of color and first-generation students. Everything was paid for: the transportation to Portland, room and board, all the fun activities they planned for us, and workshops! It was incredible, everyone was so kind. I really felt wanted.  

I also have test anxiety, and as a result, I didn’t do well on the ACT. However, L&C contacted me and said that a test score doesn’t determine intelligence. They offered for me to do an alternate portfolio instead, which was compiled of essays and labs. I loved that L&C reached out to me about that option and that they want all types of intelligence to be represented at L&C.  

L&C also offered a lot of scholarships and grants, which was super helpful to alleviate the financial stress.

What was your involvement in the Ray Warren Symposium? What drew you to that event?

This year, I worked as the ethnic studies program assistant, so being a part of the symposium is a part of my job. I worked making flyers, editing the schedule for the symposium, putting up posters around campus and off campus, attending planning meetings, and taking photos at most of the panels during the events. However, I wasn’t just doing this because it was my job, but because race is really important to me. Some people can go about their life without having to think about race, they don’t have to worry about police brutality, they don’t have to worry about getting deported, they don’t have to worry about going to a school where they are the minority. The Ray Warren Symposium acts as a catalyst each year to remind students of their privilege, but also bring great minds and conversations together.

What advice do you have for prospective students?

When students first come here, especially first-generation students (like myself), they often feel dumb. Elitist language runs rampant at L&C, and sometimes it can be isolating. I felt like that when I first came to L&C, my peers were using such big words and speaking in such an eloquent manner, I didn’t know if I truly belonged. However, I realized that I bring value to this school, and I want prospective students to know that they belong here.

Also, this is the perfect time to do something crazy! Change up your look! Try something new! The time is now! When I got to L&C, I slowly started doing more things that I would be too nervous to do before. For example, I began dying my hair various colors, wearing bright, fun makeup. Also, not to mention the copious amounts of glitter I wear.

What’s your best Lewis & Clark memory so far?

There are so many. They all involve my friends, all the adventures we have. Ranging from staying up late at Watty (nickname for Waztek Library), to exploring downtown together, they always bring such joy.

I remember one specific time in my first year (I was very naïve), I wanted to test out my pepper spray. I figured a good way to test it out would be to spray some in the garbage. Later my roommate and I start coughing so badly that we needed to leave the room. The funny thing is that it took us both a second to figure out that it was the pepper spray. My roommate from freshman year and I still joke about it today, and it’s been over two years!

How do you manage stress?

I think people often undervalue and stigmatize crying, but I think that it is very valuable to cry sometimes. It is such a good release of emotion! Another good release would be laughing. If I’m having a really stressful day, I make it a goal for myself to laugh. If I go to sleep without laughing then I won’t let myself go to sleep. I will find one of those “try-not-to-laugh videos” on YouTube or grab a friend and make them tell me joke until I laugh. I’m not just talking about a normal laugh, I’m talking about those laughs where you can’t breathe, those laughs that make your side hurt, those laughs that make you cry.

Where do you find community on campus?

The Office of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement (IME) is literally my best friend.

Do you have a job on campus? If so, how do you fit work into your schedule?

I have two. This year I was the ethnic studies program assistant (as mentioned earlier) and a Pioneer Success Institute (PSI) Co-Facilitator, in which I helped first-year students adapt to L&C life. My sophomore year I only worked one, as the ethnic studies program assistant. In my first year, I also worked two jobs. My first one was working in a biology lab and my second one was working in the Academic English Studies (AES) department, where I worked with international students with English. Time management is your best friend. I personally like to keep busy, being idle actually makes me more nervous.  

How has Lewis & Clark has changed you?

L&C has helped me to be more critical, to problematize everything I see. L&C has helped me to speak out against injustices, while also understanding them at a fundamental and structural level.

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