Senior Profile: Gabriel Perez

May 12, 2020

Gabriel PerezGabriel Perez ‘20 is a writer and a poet interested in studying and writing about working-class communities of color, poverty, racial prejudice, and family trauma.

His recent short story, “How to Become Your Father,” will be published in an upcoming issue of the Mochila Review
“Everything I do, am, and care about is informed by my identity as a second-generation Xicano native of San Gabriel Valley, CA,” said Perez. “Success, to me, means honoring my grandparents’ legacy and making them proud.” 

Perez is majoring in political science with a minor in English, and credits his advisor, Professor of Political Science Deborah Norden, and the positive experiences he’s had in Assistant Professor of Political Science Sara Angevine’s classes with his decision to choose political science as his major. 

He adds that being exposed to postcolonial literature by Visiting Instructor of English Katy Simonian and to contemporary American fiction by Assistant Professor of English Michelle Chihara “helped me realize that creative writing is where my heart lies.”

Specifically, Perez’s creative writing focuses on how intergenerational trauma affects communities of color. “I find inspiration in reading other writers—those who manage to capture in words the passion, triumph, anguish, and impossible contradictions that define the human condition. I also draw from my own life, my own family, from the people I know and love, as well as from the things that make me sad and angry. To that end, I just want to create something true.”

Apart from his poetry and fiction, Perez has found many outlets at Whittier College to hone his writing and help the community. As the features editor of the Quaker Campus, Perez has worked on several stories including an opinion piece on the Central American exodus that made its way to Tijuana in late 2018 and a features piece on Whittier’s MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán) chapter. He works as a peer career advisor at the Center for Career and Professional Development, helping students achieve their personal and professional goals. Perez also interns with Professor Chihara at the Los Angeles Review of Books, preparing articles for online publication and identifying potential contributors. 

“Working with students like Gabriel is what makes it all worthwhile,” said Professor Chihara. “It has been an honor, a privilege, and a joy to be part of his growth and progress at Whittier.”

While graduation is both scary and exciting, Perez feels prepared for anything in the road ahead. He’s proud of the friends he’s made and the causes he’s advocated for at Whittier, including canvassing in East L.A. with the Whittier College chapter of Students for Education Reform (SFER).
“The Whittier College community has become such a huge part of my life, and I’m very sad to be leaving it behind,” he admitted. “But I take comfort and pride in the knowledge of how much I’ve gained and grown during my time here.” 

Perez plans to pursue an MFA in creative writing in order to teach in higher education. He’s drawn to research, writing, and academia, and he’s passionate about advancing his community. “Whittier has not only helped me realize what I want to dedicate my life to, but also armed me with the emotional intelligence, support networks, and sense of agency I need to take the next step in translating my values and interests into action.”