Bianca Aridjis-Olivos shows versatility throughout her life, whether that’s through her dual citizenship, double major or combination of science and the arts.
Aridjis-Olivos came to the University of Dallas planning on just majoring in biochemistry, but when she realized that double majoring in Spanish was possible with her credit load, she eagerly took the chance.
A dual citizen of Mexico and the United States, Aridjis-Olivos grew up in Austin. Both of her parents emigrated from Mexico. Her family lived in a predominantly white area in Austin, and Aridjis-Olivos began to lose her connection with her heritage despite the “bubble” of her own household.
However, she was recruited to be part of the National Hispanic Institute (NHI) during her high school years.
“I didn’t know what to think of it at first,” Aridjis-Olivos said. “I thought it was a scam, to be honest, but it ended up being one of the best things I did.”
NHI gives opportunities to attend conferences both on a state and national level. These conferences use techniques like mock trials and mock legislative sessions to highlight the struggles and successes of processes like getting a bill passed.
“There are Hispanics from all over [in NHI], and just being able to connect with all those people made me really proud to be Latina,” she said. “NHI helped me realize that I could do something for my Hispanic community.”
She is currently the secretary for the UD Spanish Club and a member of UD’s chapter of the American Chemical Society. She hopes to attend graduate school in Mexico for organic chemistry and is particularly interested in the National Autonomous University of Mexico, where organic compounds are studied to synthesize enzymes like progesterone.
Aridjis-Olivos also combines a love of chemistry with a love of music. She played cello in the UD ensemble during her freshman year and hopes to continue in the future.
“I didn’t bring my cello this semester because I live on the fourth floor of Clark [Hall],” she explained with a laugh. “Can you imagine bringing that monster of a case all the way to Catherine [Hall]? It’s just not going to happen.”
“Music is able to express what we can’t express in words,” Aridjis-Olivos said. “I’m the kind of person who internalizes things a lot and sits and thinks, but music helps me because it’s a universal language,” she continued.
Aridjis-Olivos also discovered that she could be a part of the UD community during her first trip as a prospective student.
“Honestly, I hadn’t heard of UD until the summer before my senior year of high school,” she said. “At this point, I’d looked at many colleges and I wanted to do forensic science, and I knew I wanted to go to a small Catholic school to talk to professors one-on-one.”
“I was applying to a lot of universities out-of-state, and in my mind, it was like, ‘I’m gonna leave Texas, it’s gonna be great, [to] spread my roots,'” she said. However, UD convinced her to stay in the Lone Star State, although the journey was a bit anxiety-inducing.
She had not realized that she would have a personalized tour and an interview with Dr. William Cody from the biology department as a prospective student— her dad told her while they were only minutes away from UD.
“We were by the nearby McDonald’s when my dad told me, so I was like, ‘shoot.’ I didn’t eat any of my food and I started researching everything about UD.”
“The interview was a little awkward because they had us talking to Dr. Cody for a whole hour,” she said. “In my mind, this was like the worst thing that could have happened, I was freaking out about it… The people were so nice, all the anxiety was just coming from me.”
However, she recovered from these fears when she went to Mass at the Church of the Incarnation. “There was a moment when the priest raised up the host and the chalice, and I just felt this overwhelming sense of peace.”
“All these feelings and anxieties subsided for a minute, and in that moment it felt like UD could be my home,” Aridjis-Olivos said. “Coming here now, I know there’s no other place I could be.”