By: Xochitl Wilson
Who is Xochitl Wilson formerly Gandarilla. My entire existence has dealt (insert palm to face and laughing emoji here) with correcting people how to properly say my name. So much so that even I no longer say it correctly. Needless to say, thick skin has been developing since I started school here in the U.S., which was first grade. This flower (meaning of my name) was brought to this country at the age of 6 from Chihuahua, Mexico. This is probably an all too familiar story and I would gladly elaborate on it given the opportunity. I am a passionate roll up your sleeves, boots on the ground guerrera, that thrives when helping others become self-sufficient and educating our Hispanic communities on the importance of health and well-being. My passion and hard working spirit come from seeing my parents work hard to offer my brother and I the best possible opportunities this country has to offer. I probably would have never been granted the opportunity for a college education if my dad would have never decided to leave his native country and family to prospect better possibilities for us in Arizona. I was too young to realize and feel the struggles. My parents did a wonderful job never allowing us to feel we were lacking anything. Yet I was old enough to know and understand what honest living and hard work were.
What does identidad mean to me:
Soy Mexicana – yes, my origin is Latino, but I never use that to identify myself nor do I use my gender. My name is Xochitl Wilson, the fact that I am a Mexican female should not influence me building relationships. I embrace who I am and my heritage whole heartedly but have never felt the need to wear it on my sleeve. What I wear on my sleeve is my passion, hard work and dedication to everything I do and to my family. I learned how to embrace and love my name early on. It carries from our beautiful and magnificent history. We have such a rich culture and strongly believe we need to carry on with learning and teaching others on who we are and the wonderful things we have to offer. I believe we carry a responsibility to enlighten others by means of grace without having to be in someone’s face. Thanks to my parents, I am well rooted and know and appreciate where I come from. Observing how grateful my father is for being in this country, I also am very thankful that this new home (U.S.) has also given me so many beautiful things and opportunities. Maybe my story resonates with some in appreciating both worlds despite the political madness. Hundreds and thousands of people would not continue to cross borders, rivers and/or oceans if they did not believe the goal outweighed the risk. Thanks to my father risking these probabilities, I live a better life.
Xochitl Wilson received her Bachelor’s in Nutrition Management from Arizona State University. Her passion, education and professional experience has allowed her to work with children ages 0 to 5, K-8 and adults alike.
Most of Xochitl’s work has served the disparate communities in Maricopa County. From diabetes education, childhood obesity classes, and general nutrition to both children and adults. Xochitl’s desire to help those with limited community resources specifically with nutrition has been her driving force to continue working in the area of health and well-being promotion. Xochitl currently participates with the Health Improvement of Maricopa County Steering Committee, Community Advisory Board of the Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center and as a community member of the City of Phoenix Head Start Policy Council.