The following is an interview with the 2020-2021 NASPA Board Chair, Angela Batista
Who is one of your heroes and why?
One of my greatest heroes is Mother Theresa. As a young immigrant teenager, I was deeply moved when I learned about her dedication to the poor. Her sense of compassion and advocacy on behalf of the most vulnerable in society remain key motivations for me and elements that I strive to include in my leadership as I strive to live out my purpose in the world.
Where is your ideal vacation spot and how would you spend your time there?
I have been privileged to visit some amazing places throughout the world, including earlier this year before the COVID-19 pandemic, when I visited Cape Town, South Africa. This was a very meaningful and impactful trip especially the opportunity to visit Robins Island, where the inspiring Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. These days, my ideal vacation place is the Galapagos Enchanted Isles. I am obsessed with taking pictures and I can imagine myself taking pictures of all the wild life there which is known for its diversity and vibrancy.
What is your proudest accomplishment to date?
I have been able to accomplish so much more than I could have ever imagined. Without a doubt my greatest accomplishment has been obtaining undergraduate, graduate and doctorate degrees, despite the fact that I was not expected to attend school beyond the sixth grade.
What makes you laugh the most?
I laugh often and look for joy in small moments. I can sometimes laugh hysterically when watching my little Toy Poodle, Toby, run around the house, chasing a toy back and forward. During those moments, I feel that I can connect to the simplicity of life and simply enjoy what is.
If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I think I would likely choose spicy Chicken Curry Panang. I love all kinds of Asian fusion foods, but this Thai dish is one of my very favorites. This dish offers plenty of diversity of ingredients and flavors to hold my interest for a while.
If you could go back in time to when would you rather travel and with what aim?
I am fascinated by history and have dreamt often of traveling back in time to my native Dominican Republic before it was “discovered” by Spain. I have always yearned to learn more about the rituals, customs and the everyday life of my indigenous ancestors which were lost to me as a result of colonization.
What are some of your pet peeves?
People who are chronically late, when people cough and don’t cover their mouths, dog owners who leave their dog’s poop on the sidewalk, people who stand on the left side of an escalator, passive aggressive behavior, when people call Latinos Spanish.
What was the last time you were truly surprised?
My eldest niece, Celena, recently gave birth to her first child. Elias is precious and my first great nephew. My niece and her partner recently surprised me by asking me to be his godmother. I feel truly honored and look forward to developing a special relationship with him as his Titi-Nina.
What is your favorite animal and why?
Elephants because they have an incredible combination of strength and gentleness.
What is the most daring thing you've ever done and would you ever do it again?
I have a fear of heights so the most daring thing I have ever done is to ride the Big Apple Coaster at the New York Casino in Las Vegas. It was terrifying and though I am glad that I did it at least once, I would not do it again. Been there, done that!
If you were home for a sick day, what would you binge watch?
Right now, the Spanish Princess. I love watching films about the British monarchy, especially Henry VIII who I find fascinating.
What items would go into your survival bag for a deserted island?
Definitely a machete, a hammock, matches, a small cooking pot, a set of aluminum picnic ware, a recent family picture, a small fishing net, and the book, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in Spanish.
What’s one thing you miss from your childhood?
I grew up in a small rural village by the river and miss how simple everyday life was. There was no television so we spent most of our time climbing trees, talking to each and listening to stories on the radio.
What is your favorite book or movie of all time and why did it speak to you so much?
My all time favorite would have to be Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I first read it back in college, and I think that it spoke to me especially because it picked my curiosity about a world that was completely different than mine. The main character, Elizabeth Bennett, is smart, strong, independent and manages to keep her voice and power even when she is not expected to as a woman of lesser means. So in addition to being completely fascinated by the psychology and social norms of the times, in an unexpected way, I was also inspired to find my own voice by the story.
What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?
You are going to have an amazing and meaningful life. Trust yourself and know that everything you need to overcome the barriers you face is already within you.
What are some items from your bucket list?
- Take a hot air balloon ride.
- Visit the seven wonders of the world.
- Experience the Northern Lights.
- Pay off my student loans.
- Write my memoir.
- Buy a small beach cottage.