Introducing "Ray of Light" Valeria Orozco
1. Which of our three virtues do you identify with most?
I'd say Joy because I'm an extrovert and I love making people happy. My personality has always been leaning towards service, but not in the sense of me giving to the needy, but in the sharing of memories and growth between everyone involved. The biggest part of my service is spreading joy. To me, joy is the drive for me to become a better person, to seek God, and to serve others.
2. Did you have a role model/ mentor that inspired you to do what you are doing?
I've had the chance to be surrounded by amazing teachers and adults who love what they're doing. Both my parents have always pushed me to push myself past what I think my limits are. Maria Prats, a numerary from Spain who moved to the states about two years ago, has been a huge mentor for me when discussing my growth and spiritual direction. During my senior year, she was finishing her thesis for her Ph.D. We both would discuss things we were interested in and what drove us to seek them, as well as how we want to dive into more meaningful discussions about the things we love from a Catholic point of view. Dr. Prats has made me very interested in pursuing academia and her perseverance in the US after coming from a different country has helped me cement the belief that I am capable of amazing things, even if they are a little crazy to think about.
3. What is the best advice you’ve received to date?
You do not grow in places of comfort"
I don't remember where I got this from, but ever since I heard it, it has become one of my trademark saying at job interviews or college applications. Growth can come in a variety of different ways, but it requires a motivator. You aren't going to make your muscles stronger by hitting low weight at low reps every time you go to the gym, you have to slowly and surely add more weight and do more reps in order to see progress. The same comes with any type of growth; intellectual, spiritual, mental, and emotional growth all require you to escape your bubble and ask yourself questions about what you want to achieve and what your goals are. In order to grow, you need to surround yourself with people that are there to aid you and give you a net to fall on, however you need to allow those people to push you forwards.
4. How do you see/ understand your responsibility to your community?
As a Catholic, immigrant, Latina, disabled, woman of color, I have a lot of checked boxes. The communities that I am a part of are very different, whether it be my physical residence or my international community. It can be suffocating. My responsibility to my community is to show that regardless of whether I will be the minority of the minority, I am valid, and so is everyone who thinks differently from the rest of the current. I am responsible for showing my true colors as a daughter of God, and even though I struggle with a lot of more things than your everyday American, I am still powerful. I think of this as being a good role model to my 6 younger siblings who follow; I want them to see that they do not have to think of the odds against them, but instead that God created them the way they are for a certain purpose.
5. Ultimately, what does success look like to you?
A full schedule. Success to me is being involved in all the things that make your heart sing. When I have too much free time (as in free time where I could be doing something productive) I find myself empty and bored. Doing things I love like painting, reading, seeing my friends and family, dancing in the kitchen with my roommate while we try to not burn our dinner, and exploring topics I'm interested in gives me a full schedule and a full day. Success to me is when I get to go to bed feeling satisfied with how I spent the past 24 hours.
6. How can people learn more about you and the work that you're doing? Do you have a website and/or SM handles you'd like to share?
I am constantly updating my Instagram with pictures of my gap year and all the fun that I'm having exploring during my time in Washington DC! My handle is @valeriamorozco UNC Global Gap Year Fellowship program has a blog that we are trying to update regularly! Also, you can read my first blog here.