Keeper of the Dream: Guadalupe Avalos

Keeper+of+the+Dream%3A+Guadalupe+Avalos

Autumn Okuszka, Features Reporter

As a first-generation college student, sophomore Guadalupe Avalos had to act independently when embarking on her college education. When she became a Keeper of the Dream Award (KOD) recipient, she showed that out of adversity comes opportunity.

Though Avalos’ parents did not attend college, they firmly believed in the power of education, as it wasn’t an opportunity they had growing up. 

“When they came to the U.S., they were really adamant about giving us all the opportunities available so that we could succeed academically, financially,” Avalos said. “I guess that’s where I’m at right now. If I see an opportunity, I want to take it. If there’s a space for growth in the community, I want to be in it. I basically just jump into every opportunity that is presented to me because I can, and because I am so privileged compared to what my parents had.”

Avalos works for the Center for Multicultural Initiatives (CMI) and just started a new job at the Office of the Provost as a student assistant. She is also the secretary for the Meadow Brook Ball Committee and serves as Vice President of the Hispanic American Leadership Organization.

Avalos finds it’s important for her to be involved on campus, as it not only helps her grow as a person, but helps OU grow as a university, as well. 

“I feel like if we give students of racial minority more spaces where they can succeed, that would not only help them, but help the entire university be more diverse and inclusive,” she said. 

Of the many hats Avalos wears at OU, she is particularly delighted to work for Britt Rios-Ellis, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost.

“I’m really excited about my new job at the Provost office,” Avalos said. “I think the whole office is making a Latinx graduation ceremony that they’re trying to incorporate [alongside] their African American ceremony. They asked me to work with them on that, and I’m really excited to be able to see that happen.”

Through the networking opportunities she has encountered since receiving the award, KOD has already opened up a lot of doors for Avalos, who said it feels good to be recognized in a predominantly white university like OU where she often experiences imposter syndrome.

“It’s easy to feel like I’m doing things, but it doesn’t matter,” she said. “It was incredible to see the celebration and the turnout and the award ceremony and see what I’m doing matters.”

After graduation, Avalos wants to continue to work within the education system. Specifically, she wants to be a school social worker so her students won’t have to figure things out on their own like she had to when applying for higher education. 

“I grew up in a predominantly immigrant neighborhood,” Avalos said. “A lot of first-generation students did not know how college worked. Even high school was such a struggle, and dropout rates were really high. I think that if I could just help empower those communities through education, that can make such a difference, and I’m really excited to see that happen in my future.” 

This article is part of a series of articles about the 2023 Keeper of the Dream Award recipients.