Campus Celebrity: Realenga Edition

A true boricua beauty inside and out, Lenis Mariana is an icon on the rise. She has made it her mission to organize and lead our generation in the battle for equity and freedom of expression. Her persona radiates confidence, which she graciously exudes with a gentle smile and an open heart. She is both a leader and a self-dubbed apprentice amongst her crisscrossing network of student organizations and extracurricular activities. From finding herself in Siempre Vivas to founding Arte en la Placita, "dynamic" doesn't suffice to describe this extraordinary activist, artist, model, poet, dancer, yogi, mentor, and overall, woman. She brings power back to the female gender, reminding us how we never really lost it. If anything, we just forgot its strength.

Name: Lenis Mariana Ramos Rodríguez, alias Soy Realenga.

Hometown: Loiza, PR

Major: Social Sciences

V: What's the story behind your alias?

L: Bueno, the phrase "soy realenga" means I don't pertain to a specific town. I think of myself as loiceña, but I've also lived in Rio Grande, Canóvanas, and now I study in Mayagüez. More than anything, it's a declaration of world citizenship. The blog Soy Realenga itself is my outlet to raising awareness on the sociopolitical movements I'm involved in, and inspiring others to get involved.

V: Speaking of sociopolitical movements and organizations, what are you currently involved in?

L: I'm a member of Siempre Vivas and la Colectiva Feminista en Construcción, I'm a mentor for el Centro Universitario para el Acceso (CUA), and one of the founders of Arte en la Placita. I also model for Diosas al Natural, a photography company that emphasizes the natural beauty of the female form.        

V: How did you get involved with Siempre Vivas?

L: I went to the support group once as a participant, hoping to solve a personal problem, but I felt the most honest way to solve my problem was to help other women in the process of solving their own. So, I started volunteering instead! I feel it's a more interactive way to learn about feminism and gender violence.

V: Do you consider yourself a feminist?

L: At this stage, I feel more like an apprentice, than a self-actualized feminist. The word "feminist" holds so much weight, and I'm still going through some personal processes to fully understand the theory behind the movement. Yet, it's something I embrace wholeheartedly.

V: What kind of work do you do for CUA?

L: I've been mentoring a group of students from la Vocacional since they were in eighth grade. Now they're seniors and we're working on preparing them for college. It's very rewarding work; we show them the facilities, familiarize them with the classroom and laboratory ambience, and help them fortify their college board scores.

V: You clearly find fulfillment in helping your community, but what do you do for yourself?

L: I love to dance salsa and bomba, I do yoga and meditation, and I write songs and poetry.

V: Oooh, care to share a poem with us?

L: This is a poem I wrote, published by A Poet's Closet. It's called "A Mi Loíza".

Ella me cuenta de tus palmares,de sus aventuras por esos lugares.Ay como sufre mi corazón,aunque eso no me impide amartey admirar esos palmares que han desaparecido,que no pude contemplar.Loíza, mi pueblo querido,en ti mi corazón florece,cuna de mi infancia, madre de mis sentimientosporque inculcaste en los loiceños el amor por la cultura y la tradición.Nos regalaste un Samuel Lind que puede nuestra historia pintar en su lienso.Así mismo me llega el recuerdo de Adolfina Villanueva,Mujer loiceña guerrera que defendió a su familia con su vida.Que muchas Adolfinas caminan por las calles de mi pueblo,Y tengo ese dulce recuerdo del vaivén de sus caderas,como se menean al ritmo de una bomba buena.