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This month we are introducing a new series called Latinxperience! This new series will recognize students, staff, faculty, and community members of Latinx heritage that we value. This month we are recognizing, Ariana Ávila, a PhD student at UNC.

What is your role at Carolina?

I am a 3rd year Anthropology PhD student interested in farmworker health, care, food security, immigration, and the U.S. South (Florida). I am also a Population Science Trainee at the Carolina Population Center; the Graduate Student Coordinator for UndocuCarolina; and a part of the Southern Futures graduate fellowship through the Center for the Study of the American South. I am also grateful for the opportunity to have been the previous grad assistant for the CLC’s Pulso Scholars Program. It meant so much to be able to contribute to the growth of the CLC and make community here.

How has being at Carolina impacted you?

For me, it’s really been the spaces that exist within UNC that have made an impact on me. I knew very little about UNC/North Carolina prior to applying to my program. By trying to stay involved, I’ve learned so much about how socio-politics are embedded within every part of the university system. It’s important to make community and connections, especially at a PWI.

What does “pa’lante” mean to you?

When I hear ‘pa’lante,’ I think about prior setbacks and how I’ve moved forward. I love the phrase because it’s something you can say to someone else but it’s also something you can repeat to yourself. I think it can also serve as a reminder for rest. Yes, moving forward is important but resting and reflecting is so necessary before you can move ‘pa’lante.’

What is your hidden talent?

I recently started teaching myself the accordion (shout-out to Youtube). I love how the accordion sounds in Tejano music and Norteño music from México. My goal is to learn “Alma Enamorada” by Chalino Sánchez and “Entierrenme Cantando” by Ramon Ayala. I also love writing so, who know, maybe I’ll write a song!

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Practice self-compassion. Forgive yourself when things don’t go as planned. There will be setbacks, but the most important part is how you react and who you make community with as they will be your greatest supporters. Be kind to yourself. Focus your energy on what you love.

If you want to nominate a student, staff, faculty, or community member, please reach out to us at