Spotlight on Chapman Voices: Cintya Felix ’26

As a first-generation Mexican American, accessibility and inclusive resources have been essential for my growth.

I am determined to join the decision-making world as an aspiring immigration lawyer and become a public servant for my community and the world. I am currently a sophomore pursuing a double major in political science and Spanish at Chapman University, and I will be studying for the LSAT very soon. Until then, I dedicate myself to community service-oriented jobs, internships, and volunteering experiences. Thankfully, my bilingual skills have landed me intellectually challenging positions at Chapman that are relevant to my professional interests.

Last summer, I became a full-time research fellow at the Socio-Ecological Adaptation and Climate Resilience Lab, where I deliver a multilingual educational curriculum related to environmental literacy to communities of lower socioeconomic standing, immigrant heritage, and/or limited access to civic engagement. This educational programming is offered alongside advocacy organizations in Orange County that prioritize community involvement in local environmental decision-making.

This project encourages the voice of my community to be heard on a larger scale. Seeing my family, neighbors, and other community members benefit from them has been heartwarming and inspiring. Seeing the look in my mother’s eyes as I translate for a crowd is priceless. Something I used to do solely for my mother escalated very quickly and became an asset in the workforce. Similarly, I work at the Chapman Frances Smith Center for Individual and Family Therapy as a translator for families that have Spanish as their primary and/or only language. As a result, I can only envision myself continuing to hone my skills to help individuals from underserved communities like mine.

I consistently volunteer at the First-Generation and Promising Futures Program in panels when local high school and middle school students from underrepresented communities visit Chapman. Often, they come from Title I schools just like I did, which compels me to speak on my journey as an applicant. I donate my time to this cause because:

  • I love giving back to the same program that has enabled me to stay and flourish at such a prestigious university.
  • I want to see Chapman’s goal of reaching the Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) status during my time as a student.

During the panels, the students often ask me how I finance my education at a private institution, whether or not I feel like I fit in, and what it is like to navigate the system being a first-generation student. These are questions that make me reflect on power and privilege in education, the workforce, and society. This is why I continuously return and speak to younger students, providing them with helpful advice and hoping to inspire them to embark on their own journey.

I play many different roles and micromanage my time commitments because I care about keeping my word, meeting deadlines, and delivering nothing but my best work. Although I am constantly running, sometimes literally running, from one commitment to the next, I would not live any other way because I believe I have the potential to impact the lives of many. Once I finish law school, I envision myself being involved in local advocacy and politics and continuing to approach community service and social justice in the same way I approach life: graciously, ambitiously, and unapologetically.

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