Bri Alonso-Vazquez (Nahua) has always felt strongly about her identity and tries to incorporate that into everything she does. Her journey at Carolina was a rocky start, unsure of where she fit into higher education, but she attributes her personal and academic growth to her Ambassador position at the UNC American Indian Center. She began working virtually at the Center in her Sophomore year at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. After returning to campus, Bri found that the Center always felt like a safe space for her and her identity. Although her own people are from a place far from North Carolina, she has always felt at home in the Center and with other Native people at UNC. She believes that the Center has been fundamental in providing a welcoming space for her to participate in events and activities that otherwise would have been difficult for her to approach on her own. Her academic growth transformed from an Undecided anxiety into a firm decision to pursue a major in Information Science and a minor in American Indian and Indigenous Studies.
Within her major, she often looks for ways to incorporate her identity and uplift Indigenous people even in places it is hard to do so. Her favorite Information Science class was taken with Professor Maggie Melo who runs the Equity in Making Lab at UNC Chapel Hill. This class allowed her to present a dataset on land dispossession on Turtle Island through embroidered wood and bead work. Another project in the course allowed her to incorporate poetry that centered around her Nahua identity and represent it in a book nook. Additionally, she is interested in topics of global indigeneity, specifically the history of colonization and Indigenous communities in what is now known as Latin America. Bri is also interested in how documenting oral histories of life, stories, and culture can help revitalize language and Nahua ways of knowing within current and future generations. Although her most immediate plans involve working in the tech industry after graduation, Bri hopes to pursue graduate studies in a field that would give her more knowledge and expertise in working with communities. She plans to be involved in her community even while working and hopes to host digital literacy programs at local libraries for Indigenous migrants.
Apart from her academic interests and aspirations, Bri loves cats, video games, and her family. She comes from a very large family and is a proud companion of an orange cat named Ed. She has recently taken an interest in advancing her embroidery skills and wants to begin making her own clothing, starting with a traditional Nahua huipil. Her dream is to have her own farm to raise chickens and ducks as well as care for a personal garden, a life that is familiar to her through stories told by her parents. She believes that her identity is directly rooted in knowing her family’s history, how they lived, and how they live now, all of which she learns through stories and conversations.