Nallely Pacheco is a sophomore at the University of Arizona majoring in PPEL, or philosophy, politics, economics, and law. An SBS Ambassador, Nallely is a first-generation college student who is determined to make the most of her time at the university. In this Q&A, Nallely reflects on why she decided to major in PPEL, how her Hispanic heritage is central to her life, and what advice she has for new Wildcats!
Q. Why did you decide to attend the University of Arizona and major in PPEL?
I’m from Phoenix, so I really wanted to come to the UA because it’s not far from home, but just far enough. I still have that sense of liberty. The UA was the first college campus I visited when I was in the fifth grade, so it was also this cute full-circle moment.
I came from a small high school with a graduating class of 59 students, and I knew that I wanted to go to a bigger school. It was nerve racking at first. But once you find your place and the things you want to do, it's not that scary.
I picked PPEL [philosophy, politics, economics, and law] because I was trying to decide what to major in and then I saw PPEL and thought “Perfect! All the majors I’m interested in are together!”
Q. What does your Hispanic heritage mean to you?
I’m Mexican American. My parents are from Mexico. I carry my family around with me. My family is a big part of my culture and my life.
I am the middle child of seven, and I'm a first-generation four-year college student, not just in my nuclear family but my extended family. Education wasn’t as available to my parents as it is for me so it's an opportunity that I am going to take and I’m going to work hard to appreciate. It's a big thing, not just for me but my whole family. I know that my parents are proud of me. Education is part of who I am and what I’m working toward and what I want to accomplish. So, I can give back to my parents and my family for all they have done for me.
Q. Why did you decide to become an SBS Ambassador and what other activities are you involved in outside the classroom?
I wanted to be more involved this year and meet new people. I thought the College of SBS would be a perfect place to get involved because it's my college, and I want to be a part of letting other students know what’s going on and be a representative of the college to incoming freshman. SBS is a really cool college. And I feel like adding that diversity and telling my story might help other people of color and those who might be afraid of coming to a big institution.
Being an SBS Ambassador is also a great opportunity to expand my network and talk to some older students about what they’ve been doing and get tips and advice. That sense of community is something I'm really looking forward to building during my time as an Ambassador.
I am also part of the PhilanthroCATS Honorary and treasurer of Planned Parenthood Generation Action on campus. I just got involved with a club called Aspiring Latina Lawyers, which I learned about through the Guerrero Student Center. I went to the center's open house and learned more about some of the LatinX communities and clubs on campus. The UA is a very Hispanic-open community.
Q. Do you have an idea of what you want to do with your degree after graduation?
I'm still debating. My first-place choice is to go to law school and then probably go into prosecution law. But I’m still open to learning more about different types of law.
The other thing that I recently became interested in was diplomacy and working as a foreign officer. During the summer, I interned in DC at the Washington Center. I was able to meet a foreign officer, and she talked about what that field looked like, especially for women. And she was a UA student, so it was cool to talk to her about her time at the UA and her route to becoming a foreign officer.
Q. Do you have any advice for new students at the University of Arizona?
Get involved. Its very easy to keep yourself hidden. If you’re comfortable with opening yourself to new experiences and meeting new people, join a club, any club – there's hundreds of them. It's not only a great way to meet people but it can also create a new hobby or new interest. I feel like you get back what you put into your university experience. Also, be active on Instagram and follow a bunch of school accounts because you can find out about what's going on through social media.