Arciga-Najar, a Linfield College nursing student who hopes to encourage future Hispanic generations to pursue higher education, was one of 20 students awarded the 2014 Dr. Juan Andrade Scholarship and she attended the National United States Hispanic Leadership Institute’s national conference Feb. 13-16 in Chicago, Ill. She is a 2012 McMinnville High School graduate and the daughter of Gaspar Arciga and Blanca Najar.
Arciga-Najar, a sophomore majoring in nursing, became interested in the scholarship and conference after hearing of the impact the experience had on previous winners from Linfield.
“It is an amazing opportunity to meet new people, listen to activists speak and learn more about Hispanic culture,” said Arciga-Najar, who had the opportunity to meet determined Hispanic leaders who paved the way for Latinos in the U.S.
“Through the conference, workshops and speakers, I learned to never deny my roots,” said Arciga-Najar. “We should be proud to be Latinos and Latinas. I also learned that it is okay to fail. It is important to not be afraid to fail because it is a helpful way to learn and overcome diversity. No matter what, I learned to be passionate and love the things I do.”
The experience also strengthened Arciga-Najar’s ties to the Hispanic community. At the conference she spent time with people across the country experiencing different aspects of the Hispanic culture, including learning different kinds of Latin music and dances.
“The best part of the conference was being in a room full of Latinas and Latinos,” said Arciga-Najar. “It was being part of a bigger family culturally. When they called my name all of the Oregon delegation, which was about 80 students or more, stood up and waved their napkins around. I felt so happy and proud to be a Latina.”
At Linfield, Arciga-Najar is co-president of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (M.E.Ch.A.), a member of Linfield College Latinos Adelante (LCLA), a member of Latinos Organizando Comunidades con Obras y Servicios (LOCOS) and a RISE mentor.
After graduating, Arciga-Najar plans to eventually work in a birthing center as a nurse. She also plans to travel as a nurse in the hopes of meeting people and seeing new places.
“This experience has reinforced why I want to finish my education and become a nurse,” said Arciga-Najar. “As a professional I will be able to inspire my family, friends and the people that surround me on a daily basis to strive to pursue higher education no matter their heritage.”