Spotlight Story

31 August 2022

Karina Meza: Overcoming Hardships through Hope and Family Strength

Category: Spotlight Story

From a very young age, Karina Meza relied on her parents and younger brother to navigate life in the United States after immigrating to this country at five years old. Throughout her life, her family and self-motivation were her anchors of hope as she grew up in this country while being undocumented.

One of Karina’s earliest memories being outdoors was visiting Shenandoah National Park,a three-hour drive from her hometown of Rockville, Maryland. While driving through the scenic drive, her dad would stop to look at the countryside and point out for her and her brother to look at the beauty of nature.

“I still remember staring out into the mountains and finally seeing the beauty my father saw in the outdoors,” said Karina. “That’s when I realized I was just a small part of something bigger. Falling in love with the outdoors was truly such a pivotal moment in my life.”

For her family, the outdoors became a refuge from the chaos of everyday life as immigrants in the United States. One of her fondest memories was of her father taking her to a nearby park to catch fireflies and play–his way of providing quality time as a family.

During high school, while applying to college, Karina first found out about her status as undocumented. Her parents told her, that because she was undocumented, as an adult, she might face some limitations. At that time, she decided she wouldn’t let it become an obstacle for her. Rather, she drew inspiration from this status.

“Being undocumented has been my motivating factor to get me to where I want to be,” she said. “I don’t want to be in a complacent mindset and I don’t want it to stop me from looking ahead into the future. Even if I’m undocumented, I don’t let that hold me back.”

As Karina pursued a higher education, she first obtained her associates degree in Business Administration. However, it was not until she got to the University of Maryland at College Park, that she realized she wanted to venture into a career that let her enhance her creativity. She quickly discovered her passion for communications and pursued her bachelor of arts degree in this field. Karina, a trailblazer, was selected by one of the top Communications professors in the school to be the Teachers Assistant in her last year of college.

Without any hesitation, Karina looked for her next opportunity and applied to internships in her local area. She was selected to intern at a communications agency where she was exposed to a myriad of different clients, ranging from nonprofit organizations to restaurants wanting to gain more exposure. Karina felt a calling to work in the public affairs industry and after six months as an intern, she was offered a full-time position.

From that work experience and being exposed to different industries, Karina felt that her work could be impacting more communities in a direct manner, specifically her Latino peers. She knew she wanted to give back to her community just like how her parents had given to her. Karina’s passion for wanting to help others kept growing and one day, she found herself applying for a job with Hispanic Access Foundation.

“I read the mission statement of the organization and I was sold. I knew that I wanted to help further the mission and provide my community with the resources they need. ​​Being outdoors and providing back to communities is what I want to do and continue to do long-term,” shared Karina.

Now, she works at Hispanic Access Foundation as the Director of Communications and not only credits the mission of the organization as her motivating factor but the wide network Hispanic Access has.

“Hearing every day all the amazing work our leaders do nationwide on the ground is inspiring to me. I enjoy being part of something bigger than just my local community.”

From that mountaintop to now uplifting Latino voices nationwide, Karina is a part of something bigger and hopes to contribute in uplifting our comunidad at a larger scale.

Hispanic Access is inspiring, training, and working with leaders like Karina Meza, who have a stake in their community and have the drive for positive change. To help support and continue this work, please consider making a Charitable Donation

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Hispanic Access Foundation connects Latinos and others with partners and opportunities to improve lives and create an equitable society.

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