Even though Claudia Monroy was born and raised in Portland, her childhood experience has been anything but typical. Monroy’s parents emigrated from Tepic Nayarit, Mexico and she describes herself as a shy child who struggled with being a first generation Latina woman.
This summer she was chosen for Bank of America’s student leaders program. The internship seeks out community-minded high school students and helps develop their leadership skills through an internship and a leadership summit in Washington DC.
Monroy is also best friends with Hawi Hussen, another student leader (profiled by The Skanner News last week). We spoke with Monroy about her life, the internship and her future plans.
The Skanner News: How did you use your interest in the arts during your internship?
Claudia Monroy: Coming into the Boys and Girls Club for my internship, I didn’t think there was a place where I could utilize my artistic abilities. I was proven wrong when, in the marketing department, I realized that there were multiple ways creativity was needed.
Coming up with different strategies to promote the Boys and Girls Club’s brand took a lot of work. I was able to tag along in the summer programs and document their mission at its core, filming and editing a series of videos of children benefiting from the service they were providing.
TSN: What did you enjoy about interning with the Boys and Girls Club?
CM: I remember growing up next to a Boys and Girls Club, but never really bothered to step foot in it. I thought that I was alone in my struggle to better myself as a first generation Latina student. All along there were people who actually cared for my future and many futures like mine and I believe if I would have gone there, I would’ve had more opportunities.
Even as an adult interning for them, I felt the support and care they exerted as they worked endlessly, providing a platform where all youth could achieve their goals and rise. I really enjoyed being surrounded by people who are passionate about making a difference in our community.
TSN: In your opinion, how does art help to change the world?
CM: What a lot of people don’t realize is that art is all around us. It’s in the way we talk, the way we write, how we dance and draw; it is how we express our inner selves and identity. Being able to convey your story or message in artistic mediums is just another way of showing the world your beautiful voice.
There is nothing more dangerous than being silenced and it is in utilizing the craft of art as a tool for communicating and learning about the wrongs and the beauty of our society that will make the world a better place.
TSN: What did you learn from the Washington D.C. Leadership Summit?
CM: The beautiful sights and historic landmarks were only part of the reason I enjoyed the Bank of America Washington D.C. leadership summit. Everyday there was something new to learn and to connect with. I was made aware of the gravity of social issues like gun control, health care accessibility and education, to name a few.
The most valuable things I learned were from the students themselves. This proves that as a force we can collectively use our stories and different perspectives to lead the next generation into the impossible future we always dreamed of.
TSN: What does the future hold for you?
CM: I haven’t met anyone whose life turned out just the way they planned it to be. My path isn’t so clear myself, but I am figuring it out day by day. However, there are some things that I know are certain: I want to defy all Latino stereotypes holding many of us back, and be a role model that people with my similar background can look up to.
In whatever career field I end up choosing, I want to make my work be worth the time and effort I put into it. I don’t want to be famous and I don’t want to be immortal, I just want to make the world better than when I came into it in my little contribution to life.