Latinxperience: Ivonne Raquel Headley
What is your role at Carolina?
I would say my role at UNC is composed of three hats – full time graduate student, graduate research assistant, and community builder among my peers.
What does “pa’lante” mean to you?
Pa’lante for me means moving at my own pace to accomplish my dreams, always while seeking counsel – “en la multitud de consejeros está la victoria” as my dad likes to remind me
How has being at Carolina impacted you?
Being at Carolina has been an incredible journey! I started my Master of Public Health (MPH) degree with a concentration in Nutrition and Dietetics in August of 2020, so COVID-19 made it difficult for many students to build community. Especially among Latiné graduate students, we didn’t have a formal student organization outside of those who were in Law School or Medical School, which left a wide gap as many Latine graduate students are in other fields at UNC. I became very passionate about creating space for us to connect and couldn’t have done it without support of the Graduate Student Center’s Initiative for Minority Excellence. With me graduating this May (woot-woot!), I didn’t want the community of Latiné graudate students to go back into hiding, so I pushed for the creation of an official student organization. Thankfully, the buy-in from my peers was there! After organizing elections and working on a formal constitution, UNC officially has its first LGPSA – Latine Graduate Professional Student Assocation. Now, any incoming Latine identifying graduate student will be able to search the group on HeelLife and get plugged in. Since I’ll be returning to UNC in fall of 2023 to start my PhD in Nutrition, I’m excited to see how the group has evolved when I come back. 🙂
What is your hidden talent?
I like to sing!
What advice would you give to your younger self?
As a woman of faith, I would have advised my younger self to not stray too far from the faith principles upon which I was raised. I took a lot of those values for granted while completing my B.S. degree at The University of Vermont and later working in Ecuador for a couple of years through the Peace Corps. Nonetheless, I’m grateful for these past two years because I’ve been able to root myself once again in those values, and the spiritual growth I’ve gleaned as result has been life changing.