Marithza took the long road to reach University of California, Berkeley. As a teenager, she moved with her family from Sonora, Mexico to Los Angeles and began taking ESL classes and studying graphic design. She started working full-time to pay for community college. Marithza could only afford one class per semester, so it took her 12 years to earn all the necessary units to transfer.
She persevered through three rounds of college applications — and forgoing more than 30 admission offers due to insufficient funding. Marithza had to ensure that she would pay in-state tuition fees, receive enough financial aid and scholarship funding to cover other expenses.
A nontraditional student like herself needed a nontraditional way to tell her story, so Marithza drew it. Her hand-drawn stick figures narrated her educational journey and other achievements such as getting her first job and finishing her first marathon. This piece led her to speak at conferences to advocate for greater access to higher education for undocumented students like herself.
In 2016, she quit her job in Los Angeles and moved to San Francisco, where she now leads visual storytelling workshops so other students can tell their stories not based on their limitations but on what they truly are: powerful, resourceful and creative. Marithza also became the Design Lead to build an app called “CA In-State Tuition Qualifier,” sponsored by Immigrants Rising. This free online tool helps students assess their eligibility for in-state tuition in California. She can’t wait to build more tools like this.
In 2018, she transferred to UC Berkeley and majored in American Studies, with an emphasis in Visual Culture, Media and Technology. She graduated in 2020 and will pursue an MFA in Interaction Design in 2021.
Marithza is excited to be working at the African Advocacy Network in the Social Media and Communications team. Marithza believes in community. She believes in the power of story. She also believes that design and technology are agents for change. She is thrilled to continue finding innovative ways to merge them and activate them.