“If you ever need a needle in your arm, I got you,” says Malhy Guadalupe, calling back to her first Field Work Term spent in an Austin medical clinic that served much of the city’s Latinx residents. “I did a lot of interpretation work… They even taught me how to draw blood, which was really interesting,” The eighth-term senior, born in Texas and raised in Mexico, has had an active relationship with the Latinx community throughout her life, much of which helped shape her identity today.
Though she is not as engaged in needle-adjacent affairs in recent years, her work has progressed to linguistic fields. In the last two years, she has done an independent study with Thomas Leddy-Cecere, co-authoring on his research on linguistic variation within Vermonters and members of the surrounding region. On a separate occasion, she was responsible for creating and translating Spanish language outreach advocating for disability rights within the arts community. Unlike her previous interest in pre-med, her work in linguistics incorporates her bilingual experience in communities that generally lack such representation.
“I’ve always been the person to translate between my parents and my teachers… so I guess I had some power over how bad I would get yelled at by my mom for my grades. From a young age I’ve been doing interpretations, I would emcee events, translate on the spot,” she says, thinking of her years before Bennington, when she acted as a bridge between a family who refused to learn English and teachers who refused to learn Spanish.
Some of her liaison work, in some ways, happens within Bennington. She has been involved with FLoW (First-generation, Low-income, or Working-class students) for eight out of the nine terms of its existence. As the organization grew in members and in scope, Malhy came to rely on the supportive community that shared many of the same struggles she’d faced. “I’m a first-gen, low-income, working-class—all the letters you know?” She decided she wanted to serve her community in the same way the community had serviced her, and applied for a position as a FLoW intern during the summer. “Y’all helped me, now let me help you.”
In her work as an intern, Malhy helps to bridge the gap between Bennington students and administration, forging strong relationships with staff to create policies to provide for students in need of financial resources, and a community more inclusive of FLoW needs. Often, she also has the difficult task of negotiating compromises between both parties. From assisting with applications to the Arts and Supply Grant (an endowment that helped creators in Bennington College pay for materials), to negotiating pay advances for members of the community, to organizing bonfires, Malhy has done all kinds of work within the organization. Recently, she and other members have been in talks to organize seminars for faculty who are unreceptive of FLoW needs. “It’s… to make sure people are being heard, even if they themselves don’t feel comfortable reaching out first.”
As for advice to students who may be hesitant to participate: “You don’t have to be FLoW enough to be in FLoW. Because that’s a thing that a lot of people think, like, ‘oh, I’m not poor enough or I don’t struggle enough,’ like okay, but you still need support,” she says.
Head to @benncollegeflow on Instagram to learn more about the work Malhy does, show up to “FLoWing with your Power” on Mondays to air out your worries about the upcoming election, and take advantage of the pantry in the Barn she’s responsible for restocking.