Humans of Duke: Ana Trejo

Name:  Ana Rubi Trejo           

Year: 2022

Major: Undecided

Hometown: Dalton, Georgia

 

Who has been your biggest influence/inspiration?

My mom and dad especially inspire me to better myself; they have gone through so much to care for my siblings and me. Everything I have done and will do is for my family. They are the fuel keeping my soul’s fire flaming.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

The 5-years-into-the-future Ana has graduated Duke and is in her first year of business school. She is happy and possibly married to her fiancé at that point.

What’s your weirdest quirk?

My weirdest quirk is that I don’t like drinking plain water with my meals. I feel like I am just drinking my meal because water doesn't really have a taste (or a strong taste), so the water just takes on the food flavor that’s in my mouth. I have to drink juice, lemonade, tea, soda, etc. or flavored water with my meals to be fully content. (Yes, I do drink water outside of meals.)

What’s your strange addiction?

Currently, I’m not sure, but I used to be strangely addicted to origami. I would make paper cranes out of everything that could fold.

What’s your favorite smell?

Nothing beats the smell of a “carne asada” (a Hispanic grilling of marinated beef).

What’s your secret talent?

My secret talent is that I can ride a Ripstik but not a skateboard.

What technological advance are you looking forward to in the next 50 years?

Teleportation would be cool but probably not feasible in the next 50 years, so I look forward to the development of a device that allows us to use salt water for irrigation in order to combat world hunger.

Who would star in the movie about your life (they can play you or your love interest)?

Angelique Boyer would definitely play me in a movie. She is an amazing French-Mexican actress, who can play any character perfectly. Boyer actually starred in a telenovela called Tres Veces Ana (Three Times Ana), so she has triple experience being an Ana.

What has been the best thing about your Duke experience so far? Worst?

The six-week academic experience (a requirement for my scholarship) this summer has been the best thing about my time at Duke. I met 50 wonderful scholars and 9 summer assistants that I now consider my second family and life-long friends. As my cohort transitioned from high school to college, we laughed, smiled, cried, learned, and became all-round better together.

The racist slur that was written on the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture is undoubtedly the worst thing that’s happened in my Duke experience. As a woman of color, I have seen racism and discrimination first-hand, but I did not expect to see it during orientation week, the “welcome” week.

Why did you decide Duke?

I applied to colleges through QuestBridge, an organization that links high-achieving, low-income high school seniors to 49 of its partner colleges (Duke, Yale, Stanford, etc). As a first-generation student, I didn't know much about colleges; I merely knew the names of some top-tier universities and my local colleges. Because of my background, I had not heard about Duke before, but my basketball coach encouraged me to apply. In essence, I applied blindly. Fortunately, I “matched” to Duke University in December 2017. Once the financial burden of affording college was lifted off my shoulders, I started to get to know Duke. The more I got to know about Duke, the more I realized that Duke is the best place for me. In essence, I really did not decide on Duke; Duke decided on me, and I will be forever grateful for that.

What’s it like being a David M. Rubenstein scholar?

Amazing. I love my fellow Rubies (Rubenstein scholars) and being a Ruby. Being a Rubenstein scholar means having a second family that spans across the three cohorts. Coming into orientation week was also a lot easier because I was already friends with 50 other people. The immense guidance Rubies receive from the directors and coordinators of the scholarship is truly invaluable. If it weren't for this scholarship, my transition from high school to college would have been a daunting task. Everything about being a David M. Rubenstein scholar is extraordinary, from the networking to the mentorship to the life-long friendships.

What are some of the things you do outside of class?

Outside of class, I do many different things, such as going to athletic events, hanging out with friends, going to the Oasis in the Student Wellness Center, exploring Durham, and attending Duke social events. Overall, I just love trying new things.

If you inherited $100 billion today, what’s the first thing you would invest it in?

I would endow multiple low-income, first generation scholarships because a college education should be accessible to everyone. After that, I would fund hospitals.

What’s an event in your life that made you the person you are today?

In 2010, my mother was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer while being pregnant, and my father was deported to Mexico. Since neither one of my parents could work to pay the rent, my family was evicted. My sister and I were diagnosed with depression, so we met with a therapist who suggested writing as a coping mechanism. The next day at school, they announced the Young Georgia Author’s writing competition. I decided to write a memoir, but I debated for days whether I would let anyone read my story. Unknowingly, the decision to allow my teacher to read my memoir brought light to my situation at home and changed my family's life. Because of the rules of the competition and personally not wanting people’s pity, I gave the characters different names; however, the undeniable parallels between the story and my life revealed to my teacher that my family was homeless. My teacher had an encouraging response, so I submitted my story. I ended up winning the competition, and my writing made its way around the school system, local churches, and ultimately Action Ministries, who gave my family a place to live. Winning was incredible, but seeing the proud look on my mother’s face and helping my family were the most rewarding parts. I realized that through writing and education, I can make a positive difference in the lives of others. After I wrote my story, I knew that pursuing an education was a fundamental aspect I needed to do; I also realized that although learning is important, what really matters is how I use that knowledge to give back. The hardships I faced early in life have helped me acquire a greater sense of humility, strength, integrity, and hope—making me the person I am today.

What risks are worth taking?

Personally, I think risks are worth taking for love, family, one’s dreams, and happiness. But overall, embracing the unknown is important; life wouldn't be worth living without taking some unforeseen risks.