MJWC Staff

Christiana Rodriguez 

Why I do this work:

I currently attend the Community College of Denver and will receive my associates degree in the Spring of 2019. After that, I will further my education at a university in Business Management. My passion for writing started when I was really young, and it has only grown stronger since creating the writing center with my peers. I found a way to use writing as my voice to fight against injustices that I face as a minority student, and my biggest goal is to show the younger generation of students that writing is powerful and it can change the world.

What I love:

sleeping with my window open on summer nights, blasting my music on my speakers when no one is home, being happy, making a difference, the neighborhood I come from, no matter what people say about it, Taco Bell and EVERYONE knows it, my family, and my life.

 

Dajia Maestas 

Why I do this work:

During my senior year of high school at Manual, I worked with a group of seniors to created the first student led high school writing center to be built by students in the nation! As a student of color who has attended Title One schools in an urban district for the last twelve years, I have seen firsthand how the innate passion for writing and learning can fade when school is a place where you are repeatedly told your skills are ‘unsatisfactory.’ Most conversations I had with teachers about my writing were focused on deficiencies. In this environment, avoidance started to feel safer than taking a risk and failing again. I learned to see writing as something that only exists in the world of academia, a place where they have historically been marginalized and silenced. It wasn’t until high school when I got my mojo back, when my intro to lit teacher, Olivia Jones, opened my mind to a new way of writing. I discovered that writing was my voice. She encouraged me to use writing as a powerful tool to influence change. She inspired me to share my voice with the community. Ms. Jones helped me realize my voice and my writing matters and that I definitely have the power and responsibility to impact my community. We founded the MJ Writing Center because we want to offer students the opportunity to engage with writing freely so they can discover that it is their voice and it can be healing. We want them to experience how writing gives you the power to change something big in the world.

What I love:

lemons with salt, hanging out with my annoying little sister, the feeling i get when my son wakes up, looks at me and instantly smiles, helping students find their voice through writing, the feeling of accomplishment. chicken alfredo (I could literally eat it for the rest of my life), and most of all I love the little family that I created: me, my son, and my boyfriend, and the feeling I get each and everyday when it’s late at night and all I can do is sit and think about what the future has to offer for us.

 

Ariana Villalovos 

Why I do this work:

I am 2016 Manual High School graduate. I attended the Community College of Denver and received my Associate of Arts in Fall 2017. After receiving my Associates, I enrolled at the University of Colorado Boulder to major in Ethnic Studies to become an educator at the secondary level. My passion for writing traces back to my childhood but my interest in social justice and activism flourished ever since I was in high school. I founded the Writing Center because I realized how the power of education can transform young people to become revolutionaries

I do this work because in my past experience working with younger students I noticed that their strong desire to change the world was no different than that of the adults in the building. Doing this work continues to motivate me to teach because I believe every voice is powerful enough (regardless of age) to create such revolution.

What I love:

I love… horror movies, handwritten letters, hot chocolate, elote en vaso, ser Mexicana
 

Guadalupe Lujan-Ruiz

Why I do this work:

Growing up I was always hesitant to show teachers, or anyone, my work, especially my writing. I had this mindset that my writing was never going to be up to their standards so why would I ever subject myself to their criticism and ridicule? I thought that I was the only one that thought this way, during high school, however, I realized that many, many students shared the same hesitation as I did. I saw that they came up with just as lame excuses in order to put off the task of having anyone else read their writing as I did. I was lucky enough to have been able to read some of their writing and I noticed that they had so much potential, it might not have been structured in a way that teachers wanted it to be and it might not have been as grammatically or punctually correct as it could have been but what they had to say was worth looking past all that. What they had to say mattered and only a couple of people were willing to read it in its entirety. If they had some of the resources that other students in different communities had the privilege to fully utilize, their voice through their writing could be just as powerful as anybody’s. There was a group of students and one teacher that had also noticed that students in our school were belittling their writing and the power in their voices and we all decided that that needed to stop. Eventually, we were able to found the Mardale Jay Writing Center where not only were students able to come in to get help on their writing for school but also to utilize writing as a tool to get their voices across on issues that were important to not only them but also to the people they cared about. I want to believe that we had made a big impact on the students circulating through the writing center and also on our community as a whole. As long as there’s one person that cares enough, change can happen and this writing center will be around for as long as possible to make sure that someone cares

What I love: 

reading, stargazing, my family, long walks while the sun sets, Coconut ice-cream, making people happy, solitude.

 

Savanna Jones 

Why I do this work:

The writing center embodies all that I have wanted to do in my community. Instead of simply leaving the hood and forgetting about it, I am able to come back and serve my hood. I am also able to continue the work and legacy of my great friend, Mardale Howard Jay.

This work is bigger than just picking up a pencil and putting it to paper and writing your feelings. This work is revolutionary. The Mardale Jay Writing Center gives scholars of all ages a platform and opportunity to engage with the tools needed to empower themselves. I am passionate about this work because I want to see a change in my community. I want to see a change in the education system at large. And I want to see a change in the minds of our youth because we are the ones who will change the world. Knowledge is power and it is something no one can take away from you. Black and Brown students are failed in school, especially in the subjects of reading and writing, and that is something that I want to change.

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” – Frederick Douglass.

What I love:

Singing, acting, writing, reading, spending time with my loved ones, eating, snapchatting, watching Hulu/Netflix, shopping, dipping my fries in my frosty.

 

Isabelle Rayburn 

Why I do this work:

I love to help students be able to feel like they have power in their writing. I have seen so many students hesitate to write something because they felt like it wasn’t going to be good enough and that is something that I want to change. There is power in every kind of writing and I want the students who feel like they aren’t good enough to know that. Writing has been a passion of mine since I can remember, I have always had journals and wrote things just to get them off of my chest. Writing is truly something that is beneficial not only to the reader but to you too.

What I love:

I love to listen to music, eat, sleep, watch movies, analyze music and write

 

Nancy Chavez 

Why I do this work: 

I have always been very academically involved, especially when it comes to presenting or performing a piece of writing. I have always had a love of writing; specifically writing and sharing the stories of people who have historically been silenced. I write to inspire and empower others, and as a  form of advocacy. My poetry has been featured on local radio stations and I am often asked to share my writing at events. As a writer, I know that finding your voice through writing takes time and I want to help others strengthen their writing skills through dialogue and collaboration. I believe writing is a way to build community and find a common ground. Being a strong writer truly changed my life, this is why I founded the Writing Center at Manual High School: to share my love of writing with other students and to help other students at Manual to discover the power that being a strong writer gives you.

What I love:

I love to take family trips, spend time with my son, try different foods and read.