Veronica Arreola

Aug 25, 11 Veronica Arreola

City you live in:

Occupation and why?
Professional Feminist. My full-time job is as Director of the Women in Science and Engineering Program at UIC. I do this because I was a science student and I know the issues that women face in science and engineering. I am a champion for my students. Sometimes they need me to validate their choices, invalidate opinions others have of them and to speak truth to them. I am also a freelance writer and all of my work has been on women’s issues. All my work is done from a feminist perspective, that is why I claim the occupation of “professional feminist”.

A regular day consists of?
A whirlwind of family, work and writing. I’m also a part-time PhD student, so starting in mid-August, add in class once a week and homework on the others. So yeah, there aren’t a lot of regular days in my life.

How do you define success?
I’m still not sure. Right now it is often getting through my to-do list each day, that my daughter still calls me “mama” and wants to cuddle. In the grant scheme of things, I just want to make a difference in this world. I know I have and will continue to do so. Maybe that’s my definition…I’m a success at what I do because I focus on the work that needs to get done, not the accolades. Even if they are wonderful to receive!

What has been your biggest challenge?
My mind won’t shut off. I’m constantly thinking of new things to do, write, or start. I know my husband cringes when I start a sentence off with, “I have this idea…”. I want to do so much and there’s just not enough time in the day.

What advice would you give a Latina who wants to follow in your footsteps?
Don’t. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and fallen on my butt. Learn from my mistakes, never let anyone get in the way of your passion, never be afraid of taking risks and you’ll carve your own path of awesome.

What’s on your bucket list?
Outside of traveling as much as I can, I don’t really keep a bucket list. I just know there are a lot of things I want to do, see and experience while I am on this planet. Speaking of which, I really hope there is an affordable space tourism program before I die!

I am proud to be Latina because:
We have such a rich heritage. We have such a strong work ethic, which can be a down side, but it really inspires me when I need a kick in the butt. I have family members who were migrant workers, getting through my days should be a snap.

How do you get your Latin fix?
Food! Queseadillas is one of our go-to dinners when we are tired or short on time. Just a simple quesadilla paired with my husband’s guacamole and bam! My fix is met.

Spanglish, English, Spanish?
English. I didn’t grow up speaking Spanish. But I’m trying to learn more since my daughter is also learning. She almost knows more than me!

What is your favorite Latin restaurant?
Our favorite is Mixteco. They have the best mole in town. They are also super kid-friendly.

My favorite Latina stereotype is:
That we are passionate, because I am! The fiercest feminists I know are Latinas.

Best advice from mami and/or abuelita:
Go to college! Which I listened to. They also said to go to school first, boys later. Which I didn’t. But all you youngsters reading this, listen to my grandma! What they really wanted was for their girls to be able to stand on their own feet no matter what, which I did listen to and accomplished.

Favorite home remedy
A cup of tea and cuddles from my daughter. Works every time.

Favorite Quote:
“Our struggle today is not to have a female Einstein get appointed as an assistant professor. It is for a woman schlemiel to get as quickly promoted as a male schlemiel.”
- Bella Abzug

Career Highlights
Being offered my dream job as director of the Women in Science & Engineering program in 2004. In 2007, I was named as Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Women Woman of the Year for my work on and off campus advocating on behalf of women and girls. In 2010, I was one of 25 people awarded the Chicago Foundation for Women’s Impact Award. Earlier this year my office was recognized at the White House with a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. And every time one of my students graduates and moves on to her next challenge.

[fun]♦ My husband and I have been in two Chicago Sun-Times stories: one sidebar for Valentine’s Day about how we met at the mall where we worked together when I was in high school, another focused on how my mom didn’t speak to him for the first two years of our relationship. Fortunately they worked things out before she died.[/fun]

♦ Veronica I. Arreola has been working on the issue of women being underrepresented in science and engineering for over 15 years.
♦ She has been organizing and writing online since 1996. She currently blogs at
♦ In Fall 2010, Veronica started work on her PhD in public administration. [/career]

[description]Learn from my mistakes, never let anyone get in the way of your passion, never be afraid of taking risks and you’ll carve your own path of awesome.[/description]

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