Park Profile: Irene Nazario ’23

The Park Scholarships Diversity Student Task Force has compiled profiles of Park Scholars, Park Faculty Scholars, and Selection Committee Members designed to give prospective students insight about the Park Scholarships program, the selection process, and how scholars made the decision to join the Wolfpack.

Irene Nazario with cow

Name: Irene Nazario
Hometown: Guatemala, Puerto Rico, and Georgia (U.S.)
Class Year: 2023
Major: Animal Science
Role within Park Scholarships: Park Scholar

1. Tell us a little about who you are, your background, and identity.

I was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala. This is where the innumerable volcanoes, our bright-colored clothing, and the flying Quetzal create the nickname of “the eternal spring.” After living there for eight years of my life, I moved to Puerto Rico. This island is not only where the song of the coqui, the celebration of life through salsa dancing, and mofongo originate but also where the roots of my father’s family begin. Four years later, we moved to the great peach state of Georgia. I lived there for the rest of my time in both middle school and high school until I decided to go to NC State, where I hope to continue studying my passion and learning more about life.

2. What are you involved with on/off-campus? What are you passionate about?

Ever since I was little I have loved to dance. It is a great part of my culture and it became a great part of who I am while growing up. For this reason, I joined the Latin dance team Sube Ritmo, which has allowed me to keep in touch with my roots and meet new friends. In the realm of the arts, I have also enjoyed creating pottery for quite a few years. Joining the Crafts Center to continue my journey with ceramics has been an incredible way to channel my creativity. Lastly, I am also a part of the Pre-Veterinary Medicine Association which lets me combine the great passion that I have for veterinary medicine with meeting other like-minded students and finding great opportunities.

3. Why did you decide to choose NC State and the Park Scholarship? What interested you the most about the Park Scholarships program as a high schooler?

I was first interested in NC State due to its highly acclaimed pre-veterinary program. I have wanted to become a veterinarian ever since I was little, and their curriculum is one of the best to be exposed to all kinds of opportunities and new developments in the animal science field. When I learned about the Park Scholarships program, that is the moment that I knew I wanted to go to NC State.

Irene Nazario on Sube Ritmo

4. How did you find out about the Park Scholarships program?

When researching and applying to NC State for its incredible pre-vet curriculum, I found the Park Scholarships program in the financial aid portal.

5. In high school, what were you most proud to share in your Park application?

I loved being able to write about where I come from and the cultures that surrounded me growing up. Also, it was incredible to reflect while talking about my love for the veterinary field and the amazing opportunities that I had working with animals. These experiences include how much I enjoy the times where I can use the things that I have learned to help out those around me and build a stronger community.

6. What fear(s) did you have while applying to the Park Scholarships program? Have you found them to be true?

When coming into the Park Scholarships program for my first semester, I had some concerns regarding what kind of environment I might encounter. NC State is a predominantly white institution (PWI), and being a woman of color I was aware of the type of situations that I might encounter in my time here. While current events have not made this situation easier, I have to believe and trust that it is a work in progress. Being part of a small population of students of color that are in the Park Scholarships program worried me at first, but seeing the type of dedication that my peers and I have towards making this program a more diverse and inclusive place gives me hope. I’m looking forward to the progress that we will be able to make in bringing in more students of diverse backgrounds and paths of life to further the legacy of the Park Scholarships program.

7. What advice might you give a high-schooler who is considering applying for the Park Scholarship?

The best advice that I got when going into the interview process for the Park Scholarship was to just be myself. I know it sounds a little ridiculous since there is not really much else you can be. However, it really helped calm my nerves since everything that you have done and everything that you are is what is actually important. So my advice would be to be confident in yourself and to be sure of who you are, and your personality and achievements will shine through on their own.

8. Is there a certain pillar that particularly resonates with you? Why?

The pillar of service particularly resonates with me and with what I plan to do with my life. I think that giving back to those around you, those who have most likely helped you get to where you are, is the best thing that we can do to improve our communities. This pillar ties in with my passion to become a veterinarian in the sense of how much animals have aided me in life. Whether service animals, livestock, or pets, these animals have made millions of lives better including mine, which is why I want to dedicate my time and love to care for them. 

Irene Nazario with animal

9. What do you value most about fellow Park Scholars? What might you hope to see in prospective scholars?

One of the best traits that I have seen about my fellow Park Scholars has been their willingness to help those around them. This is certainly a quality that I hope to see in prospective scholars, as well as a more diverse student body who come from different walks of life to bring a unique perspective to the program.

10. Can you share an important college experience that was made possible by the program?

One of my favorite experiences that I have had the opportunity to be a part of happened in my animal science laboratory. In this lab, we were able to be exposed to certain livestock animals and learn about the different tasks that are required to care for them. I was able to help a sow give birth to one of her babies.

11. What is one thing someone might not know about you as a Park Scholar?

I really love to bake! I have a HUGE sweet tooth and will bite into anything with sugar.

12. What have you learned about the Park Scholarships program since becoming a Park Scholar that was surprising or that you weren’t expecting?

I learned that the Park Scholarships program has an expansive network of alumni that are willing to help others in the program achieve their goals.