Carina Roman-Solis chose CSU because it felt like home after spending many summers here with her high school’s Upward Bound program. This spring she took the podium as she walked the stage. Carina is one of two students chosen for what is a first in recent history—student speakers at CLA commencement, one spoke at each of the two CLA ceremonies held at Moby Arena in May.
Carina graduated with a double-major in General Sociology and Spanish – Languages, Literatures, and Cultures.
“She is everything we hope for in a student,” says Lynn Hempel, Associate Professor of Sociology. “I think the world of her.”
The feeling seems to be mutual. When asked about favorite professors, Carina said Dr. Hempel and CLA’s Dr. Carmen Martin Quijada both helped her learn so much and pushed her to be better each day. “No matter what they were always there to support me and have continued to help me even when I was no longer their student in the classroom,” says Carina.
“My favorite class would be one of my sociology classes on Intersectionality,” Carina said. “The class really opened my eyes to a different perspective on social movements and how our experiences with racism or sexism are different based on our different identities.”
Sociology instructor and Ph.D. student Noel Strapko says Carina always came to that class prepared, really thought about and engaged with course material, and her papers were always thoughtful, well-written, and insightful.
“These students were chosen because they have shown consistent academic excellence, have engaged meaningfully in co-curricular activities at CSU, in CLA, and in local and state communities,” said Roze Hentshcell, Professor of English and CLA Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies. “Moreover, they have proven public speaking skills. Throughout their work in and out of the classroom, they truly represent the value of a liberal arts education.”
Following a graduate assistantship orientation this summer at Metropolitan State University in Denver, Carina will begin graduate school at the University of Denver (DU) in the fall. She will continue as the Director of Religious Education at Denver’s Ascension Catholic Parish.
“I want to be able to use what I learned [at CSU] to break the cycle of injustice in the education field and help those who need help in high school and in college,” says Carina. “Using my Spanish skills, I would love to help Hispanic families understand the college process and be able to feel like they are also a part of their children’s experiences.”
As a first generation student, Carina says she did not know anything about college–especially about what a major was. “I asked my Upward Bound advisor what her major was and that is what I choose: Sociology.”
Carolina Banuelos, now a Sociology Ph.D. student, was the Upward Bound advisor Carina met when she was a sophomore in high school. “We were having insightful discussions about sociology before Carina was a sociology undergrad. I was selfishly excited when she told me sociology was her major!” says Banuelos. “Carina makes her ideas and wants a reality (graduating early, pursuing opportunities abroad, getting an assistantship for grad school) all while bringing her family and communities along. She calls me a mentor, but I hope she realizes mentors are only as good as their mentees.”
Last year Carina was featured as a CLA “How’d You Get Here” student story. Her updated responses are below.
Major: Sociology & Spanish
I first learned about CSU through this TRIO program that I was a part of called Upward Bound and each summer during high school I would come to CSU and I would take classes and live in the dorms. The reason I chose CSU was because after so many summers that I spent here it already felt like it was my home. It was close enough to home but it was also far away from home, so it was a perfect balance. I knew I wanted to stay in Colorado, but I also wanted to explore and be more independent. I also received the most grants and scholarships for CSU, and I knew that this would not only benefit me but also my family!
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Commerce City, CO but when I went to middle school where I moved to Montbello, CO.
Path to my Major
Deciding my major was super easy for me. As a first generation student, I did not know anything about college – especially about what a major was. I asked my Upward Bound advisor what her major was and that is what I choose: Sociology. Luckily for me, I fell in love with it! I also added Spanish because I truly loved learning about my language and culture!
Why do you study sociology and Spanish?
I study sociology and Spanish because they give me skills I want to use in my future career. With a sociology major, I have learned about how the societies and groups we are a part of reflect who we are as a person and how the inequalities affect our lives. I want to be able to use what I learned to break the cycle of injustice in the education field and help those who need help in high school and in college. Using my Spanish skills, I would love to help Hispanic families understand the college process and be able to feel like they are also a part of their children’s experiences.
What clubs/organizations are you involved in?
I am involved with Ram Catholic and Triunfo. I am involved with Ram Catholic because I am someone who has grown to love my religion and I really want to keep growing in my faith. I am involved in Triunfo because I loved being able to meet with my mentee every Thursday and helping her with her homework. It is important to give back to the community and I felt like this program was the perfect way for me to do it. Throughout my years here at I have been involved in Ram Catholic, Triunfo, Academic Advancement Center, C4E, Upward Bound, and have been abroad to Nicaragua and Costa Rica. I was a CLA Ambassador last semester and I absolutely loved being a part of the team. It was a lot of laughs and a lot of learning on how to be great leaders at CSU.
What’s your favorite class and why?
My favorite class would be one of my sociology classes on Intersectionality. The class really opened my eyes to a different perspective on social movements and how our experiences with racism or sexism are different based on our different identities.
Any favorite professors?
Some of my favorite professors was Lynn Hempel and Carmen Martin Quijada. Bother of these professors helped me learn so much and pushed me to be better each day. No matter what they were always there to support me and have continued to help me even when I was no longer their student in the classroom.
What’s your favorite CSU memory?
My favorite CSU memory would have to be my time as an Orientation Leader. Being an Orientation Leader not only pushed me out of my comfort zone, but it helped me see that one person can change another person’s experience at CSU. I also was able to meet a lot of new people and create friendships that will stay with me for a long time.
What do you love about your major/College of Liberal Arts?
What I love about my major and the College of Liberal Arts is that the classes are so eye-opening and challenging, but they give you tools you are able to use in a daily life.
What are your plans after graduation?
My plans after graduation is to start my Graduate Assistantship in the Orientation MSU Denver and start graduate school in the Fall at the University of Denver (DU). I also am the Director of Religious Education at Ascension Catholic Church and will continue to be.
What advice do you have for current students?
Some advice I would give current students is to not lose hope on their end goal. Sometimes life throws you so much obstacles but having determination to accomplish your dream is what can help to actually reach it and when you feel like you are giving up, take a break and take care of yourself because at the end of the day you are probably just tired and need to reenergize yourself.