By Jeanette Lomeli 2022
Maritza Arreola is a social justice nerd, a true and dedicated Marvel fan, a lover of big, bold fashion statements (who can forget her amazing earrings), and, among other things, is SCORE’s new Assistant Dean.
First and foremost, Arreola always wears awesome earrings. She’s been spotted rocking hoops, dinosaurs, loteria cards, and other interesting and ornate earrings that create unforgettable fashion statements. Also, her ombre hair is always styled to perfection! She can match any outfit with soft curls that frame her face or with ruler-straight hair.
I certainly still remember what she was wearing for this interview; she matched a radiant sunflower yellow dress with some dangly hollow wooden hoops flecked with yellow, red, and orange. When asked her about the origin of her love for earrings, she said that it was not something that she really was able to do until her time at Mills College, an all-women’s college in Oakland, California. As a child and young adult, Arreola was not confident in showing her ears or any part of them because of the hearing aids she wears to accommodate her loss of hearing. Her experience as a student at Mills College, through working as social justice peer educator and in nonprofits, helped her embrace that identity. Her accessorizing indirectly allowed her to heal that insecurity she carried with her. She found that being deliberate about speaking up about her disability ensured that she challenged the assumption that everyone in the room is able-bodied and made her peers think more critically of their own assumptions. In that way, she hopes that she can create a transformation of thought among people in order to lighten students’ hardships and make it easier for them to navigate spaces.
In her time at Mills College, she was able to discover the issues that she cared about: disability justice, educational support systems, claiming space, and challenging assumptions people make about able-bodyism. Empowering communities of people to stand up for what they believe in and create change has always been a dream of hers that she’s been able to fulfill because of her profession and career in education and social justice.
To Arreola, social justice means transforming human suffering into positive change. It’s a core value that powers her drive and passion of helping students with marginalized identities and historically underrepresented students, including first-generation college students, students of color, LGBT students, students with disabilities, and undocumented students. In her own life, as a first-generation student, woman of color, and a person with a disability, these identities allow her to draw on from her experiences and connect them to ways she provides assistance to students. For her, it is possible to work more holistically because she is informed by what she went through in her own educational path and that environment.
Her education at Mills, where she earned a BA in Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies and minored in Ethnic Studies, and her graduate work at UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, brought her to different positions at Mills College, Los Angeles LGBT Center, UCLA, and finally, at Scripps College.
Not surprisingly, her favorite place and the place where she feels most comfortable in is SCORE! She hopes to be able to serve and support students in getting them access to the opportunities and resources they need to thrive at Scripps.
I was curious to learn more about Arreola. As a Marvel fan, she’s been keeping up with Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones. She is faithfully and patiently waiting for the return of Grey’s Anatomy (let’s hope that it gets here soon.) She is an avid player of Pokemon GO and if she could be a Pokemon, she would choose to be Togepi, a super bubbly and happy Spike-ball Pokemon!