Outstanding Grad: Kristy Ornelas

Kristy OrnelasKristy Ornelas

Degree: MA in Public History: Concentration in Cultural Resource Management and Historic Preservation

Kristy Ornelas (she/her/ella) has been recommended as an Outstanding Graduate for the College of Liberal Arts by Assistant Professor of History Sarah Payne. Most notably, Kristy has distinguished herself as one of the most impressive graduate students to complete the MA in History over the last decade. As a first generation and Latina student, Kristy has consistently amplified DEISJ issues in class, in her scholarship, and in her applied work.

Learn more about Kristy below:

1. Why did you choose to study at CSU?

“The connection between public lands and history intrigued me. So, I decided to pursue that interest and CSU was the best place to do that.”

2. How has your background shaped your experience here at CSU, and what advice would you give to students of similar identities?

“I am a first-generation Latina and Spanish is my first language. Higher education is not meant for people like me which has made graduate school a tough experience on many levels. Yet, my identity has provided me with the strength to keep going – is has made me the historian I am today. To the students with similar identities, you are here because you too can do it too. I see you and I believe in you. Do not forget to take care of yourself and enjoy your experience as much as possible!”

3. What accomplishments from your educational career at CSU are you most proud of? How were you able to accomplish those things?

“Honestly, I am most proud of finishing school. The past two years in graduate school have challenged me academically, emotionally, and physically. I persevered by leaning on my friends, taking time to rest when necessary. I am also finishing school because I put in the work with many study dates with friends, and lots of late nights. It was hard, but it was worth it.”

4. What has been the most challenging aspect of your educational career so far? How have you overcome those difficulties?

“Financially, graduate school is extremely difficult for lots of students, especially those with marginalized identities. I am financially independent, so I saved money by meal prepping, finding books through the library or online for free, using public transportation, and applying for scholarships. Graduate school also challenged me in so many ways and I learned so much because of it. However, being in a predominately white space was so difficult. With the help of friends, therapy, my cat Diego, and some great professors I made it to the end!”

5. What are your post-graduation plans and goals?

“I will be moving to a new city and will be starting a new job as a Cultural Resource Specialist at a firm. I am extremely excited to continue to learn and grow as a historian!”