Juan Armijo (BBA '17)—Unidxs President

First-generation alumnus supports Latinx across the university

TWU alumnus Juan Armijo on his graduation day

Growing up in Oak Cliff, a low-income neighborhood in Dallas, Juan Armijo never thought about going to college.

“College was not something that was ever talked about in our neighborhood and rarely within my family,” Armijo said. “No one ever told me that I could not go to college, but no one ever told me that I could, either.”

Armijo did go to college, enrolling at Texas Woman’s with a plan of becoming a doctor.

“Like many first-generation college students, I did not know what I did not know,” he said. “I had an idea of the kind of careers I could have, and also had the idea that I needed to be financially independent. Becoming a doctor was that pathway.”

Armijo discovered a passion for higher education while working as a student in housing, admissions and the Office of Civility and Community Standards. He graduated from TWU in May 2017 with a Bachelor of Business Administration in management and went on to earn a master’s in higher education, student affairs administration, from the University of North Texas in 2019.

Armijo was completing an internship in grad school when the coordinator of internships position opened at TWU. Though he hadn’t considered working for his alma mater, Armijo said he’d always appreciated the “Learn by Doing” motto as a student, and this position would enable him to provide experiential opportunities for current students.

“As a student, I came across many professionals who provided support and guidance for me,” he said. “Having the opportunity to be that professional for others now is my favorite part of my job. I also love my work family and the mentors and support system I have gained at the Pioneer Center and across campus.”

He also is looking to build support systems for others through Unidxs – Latinx Faculty & Staff Affinity Group, which he helped start and currently serves as president.

“As a first-generation Latino immigrant, my support systems of professionals who looked like me were limited,” he said. “I wanted to provide a space for others and myself who could connect with ‘nuestra gente’ and find a ‘familia’ in white spaces that were not designed with us in mind.”

He added that, while in college, he and other students received a great deal of support from the custodians, maintenance and dining staff, most of whom were minorities.

“A simple ‘que tengas buen día mijo’ (Have a good day) or ‘echale ganas y sigue estudiando’ (Cheer up and keep studying) from these staff members was so impactful,” he said. “Little did they know that they were contributing to the retention of myself and many other students like me who already felt disconnected and felt that college was not for us. As president of Unidxs, I want to make sure these employees are also heard and represented in decisions that may affect them.”

Page last updated 2:14 PM, September 21, 2020