submitted by Isabela Leonor Rosales

Adriana for a girl. Carlos for a boy. When I asked my parents what names they were considering for me before I was born, these were their two options. I wrapped myself in these names, creating whole new identities for myself. Maybe if my name had been Adriana, I would have been a pediatrician like my Aunt Adriana. Maybe if my name had been Carlos, I would have become a dentist like my Uncle Carlos. Passing on a name has always been done in my family, but the night before I was born, my father had a prophetic dream. He was walking on the beach alongside Pablo Neruda when the Chilean poet turned to my father and said, “Raymundo, don’t worry, I will care for your daughter Isabela and she will have the gift of words.” 

My name is Isabela Leonor Rosales. I am the first Isabela in my family - much to the disappointment of my Aunt Adriana and Uncle Carlos. Following in step with Neruda’s prophecy, my favorite subjects in grade school were Music and Language Arts, which lead me to pursue a major in English at the small Liberal Arts school in Decorah, Iowa where I grew up. This little prairie town has a river running through the heart of it and limestone bluffs embracing its edges. Though I have lived in many beautiful places since I left my hometown, I will always cherish the view of the Upper Iowa River flowing next to the Decorah community garden above all other grand vistas Colorado has to offer. Growing up in a small college town surrounded by beautiful countryside nourished my propensity to wonder, my appreciation for simple beauty, and my ability to develop a collective consciousness. Before moving to Colorado, I spent my days walking through tallgrass with a notebook in hand and tuned in to my favorite music, letting the movement of the prairie inspire poems about the monarch from Mexico and the sprightly yellow finch. 

Leaving a beloved community, my desire to connect, create, and explore brought me to Iliff School of Theology in the fall of 2018 where I joined the Social Justice and Ethics cohort. This past academic year, Iliff has provided a brave space for me to develop skills in transformative community organizing and contextual theology while also allowing me to explore my own intersecting identities. Because of this graduate work, I have come to value sustainable dialogue surrounding our social locations, the dynamic between privileges and oppression, the relationship between the individual and community, and how justice manifests itself differently on the micro and macro levels in society. 

Moving forward with my degree program, I aspire to be a scholar activist and to continue showing up for my siblings in socially marginalized communities. With a passion for building bridges, I long to support where I am asked to support and be present while respecting the integrity of our different and unique experiences in a white supremacist culture and society. Ultimately, I believe my freedom is contingent upon the freedom of everybody else. And instead of connecting out of a common sense of frustration, I want to connect from a collective imagination of a better future for all.  

I am so grateful to co-create with Platform4Women because I support its efforts to critically engage with, interrogate, and deconstruct systemic oppression. I believe this is a platform where we can continue the work of identity exploration in a way that benefits our communities at large. To this space, I bring my own context, culture, and community. Therefore, I am grateful to my parents, my aunts, my uncles, my grandparents, and to all of the people who have shaped me into the person I am today. I would not be here if it were not for my collection of ancestors, thus I evoke their presence as I close this introduction. Thank you. Gracias. 

Long Life ~ Happiness ~ Honey in the Heart 

Samantha Joo