Scholar Spotlight: Carlos Edill Berríos Polanco
We recently sat down and asked Carlos Edill Berríos Polanco about his experiences at The Ohio State University and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Here's what he had to say.
What do you think is the value that ¿Que Pasa, OSU?, Ohio State brings to Ohio State?
Que Pasa is a wonderful tool to represent the voice of the Latinx student population here and to celebrate our students. As a minoritized community, it is always important to surround yourself with people that support you. I hope that Que Pasa is a part of that support that Latinx students feel when they come to Ohio State. The magazine also serves to show that Latinx/Hispanic culture is not monolithic. Between the front and back cover lies the magical world of Latinx imagination, everything from poetry about VapoRub to the importance of Latinx representation. It's a wonderful thing to open the magazine and see stories that resonate with you, especially if you are away from home for the first time.
Why did you choose to become involved with the magazine?
Originally, I chose to work with the magazine because I wanted some experience working in publishing to link into a potential career in journalism. But I decided against that career path. Now, I am still working because I wanted to be a part of the little bit of Ohio State history that Que Pasa occupies, and I wanted to help my fellow Latinx students find their place between our pages.
As an Latinx Leadership Development Institute mentor, why do you believe that having a mentor is important to someone's success?
Mentors serve as a guiding force to their mentees. Not only by passing on the skills and knowledge they have acquired, but also by serving as a supporter. Mentors help lead their mentees personal and professional growth. For students like me, who are thousands of miles away from home, it is always good to have a “go-to person” who has been through what you have been through and overcome it all. Professionally, a mentor often helps links their mentee to opportunities that help advance their career. I know a couple of my kids got their internships through their mentors. Coming to college is a very developmental time for everybody. A mentor who exposes a person to new and unique experiences helps them develop into a wonderful, amazing person with lots of know-how and skills they would have otherwise missed. I never really had a mentor, so I am kind of playing everything by ear and hoping it works. The one thing I do know for sure is that I am really proud of the kids who I mentored.
Do you have a role model that you looked up to?
I mean I will always look up to my older family members. A lot of them have gone through wild lives and lived to tell tales. As a lad, I was glued to every piece of media I could consume. That exposed me to millions of larger-than-life characters that I wanted to grow up to be. A lot of my idols come from comic books, like Nightwing. He is a hero and wonderful person, in spite of all the horrible things in his life. That is something I really look up to, not letting yourself get overtaken by sadness and choosing to come out on top through determination, hope, and power of will. Anthony Bourdain is another one of my heroes just because he was such an interesting guy who struggled with a similar darkness and strived to overcome it. In college, I really look up to Lauren Lopez and Yolanda Zepeda because they have always been there for me through every up and down and dealt with a lot from me.
What is your major and why did you choose it?
Originally, I started as a Welding Engineering Pre-Major, but two years into that I realized it was not for me at all. All the physics and chemistry classes were incredibly stressful and not enjoyable at all. After that, I dipped my feet into Journalism for a semester and found it enjoyable, but it wasn't for me. I considered Business for a time, but that wasn't for me either. I landed comfortably in the English Department after my second year at the university. Everything has honestly come full circle. I had always been a writer, from the little short stories that I wrote as a lad that were thinly veiled copies of the cartoons I watched to the long and tenuous novels I've written now. I like English a lot, particularly the focus on critical thinking.
What year are you?
I am in my fourth year at Ohio State, but I'm not graduating next semester. I will be taking a victory lap next year.
When do you hope to graduate?
I'm hoping to graduate in May of 2021.
What are your plans for after graduation?
Fingers crossed, I get into a master's program for Higher Education and Student Affairs. After that, I want to continue working with students, making sure they find their right fit in education for the rest of my life. A small part of me wants to retire in 40 years and open a small café that serves multicultural cuisine. At the end of the day, I just want to make people happy.