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Sommer Scholars

Katherine Narvaez Mena

  • Country of Origin: Guatemala
  • MPH/MBA Student

FROM SURVIVING TO THRIVING

Katherine Narvaez Mena was 6 when her family left Guatemala for the U.S. They set out with just enough cash and clothes to last a week. Making their way on foot and by bus through Mexico, Narvaez Mena, her mother, and two siblings arrived in the U.S. a year and a half after their journey began.

Settling in Georgia, the family strived to adjust to their new culture and learn the language. Narvaez Mena excelled in school and extracurricular activities, including the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. Although she was the top cadet in her class, without U.S. citizenship she was ineligible for a Navy scholarship that she had hoped to apply for.

Determined to go to college, she was awarded a full scholarship to attend Mary Baldwin College and later qualified as a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy) recipient. After graduating, she worked at the Center for Pan Asian Community Services in Atlanta, Georgia, leading a program to help immigrant and refugee youth avoid substance abuse. She also founded the nonprofit Fundación Adelante, Guatemala, dedicated to preventing waterborne disease in rural Guatemalan communities.

Through the MPH/MBA dual degree program at the Bloomberg School and Carey Business School, Narvaez Mena hopes to grow her nonprofit and further her work on behalf of marginalized and immigrant communities.

"I hope to continue advocating for the underserved communities I came from."