From her unique heritage to her cultivated closet and love of languages, Ivanna is quite an impressive individual with an equally remarkable resume. Her bold yet kind demeanor is captivating, and as we sat talking in the business school, I couldn’t help but imagine what she will one day bring to the fashion industry following her graduation.
Q: You seem to have an interesting background! Can you tell me about how it has shaped you as a person?
A: I consider myself Mexican American. My grandfather worked for the Mexican embassy in D.C.; he was in the agriculture department and helped make the whole trade between the US and Mexico in terms of NAFTA and avocados. That’s why people love guacamole now – because of my grandfather!
Q: You’re bilingual, but you also speak some other languages, right?
A: I’m a native Spanish and English speaker, and I have been practicing Chinese for eight or nine years. I’m also trying to be fluent in French and Portuguese right now. Languages to me are just the best; once you have that tongue, you can pick up on anything.
Q: I also saw you’re a Magnolia Scholar, or a first-generation college student. What were your parents’ reactions?
A: I applied to Wake because of the Mag program. College is a completely different concept [in Mexico] because it’s just continuing school; it’s a campus, but not one where there are dorms and activities. So, I think it’s been really cool for my parents to see [Wake]. My dad was obsessed with the idea. He was like, shit, I wish I had gone to something like this! I think the coolest thing was being on this ride with them. I’m definitely very lucky and fortunate to have had the experiences I’ve had here.
Q: How did you get involved with Girls Who Code?
A: I worked on an app about two and a half years ago called “The Captionable,” and it’s like Instagram meets hangman. My love for [Computer Science, my minor] was still gushing [last year], and I was moving to New York for a semester. If you stop using a language you’re going to lose it, so I wanted to have a way of applying myself. The chapter I helped at was in the Bronx. It was mainly Latin American girls ages 9-15, and we were teaching these girls basic things like Swift Playground. More than anything, I love helping women, [specifically] minority women, and women in technology. I feel like a lot of girls get really anxious when people talk about coding. They’re like “Oh no, that’s a boys’ thing.”
Q: What was it like as the WFU Style President, and what was your favorite part about it?
A: It’s crazy to think I was President for this organization for 2 ½ years [following Megan O’ Sullivan, who co-founded it], and now it’s become such an amazing thing. I really loved going in [to meetings], and everyone knew that “language.” We all knew what was going on, especially during fashion week. I was like, did you guys see Marc Jacobs’ new line, the new Gucci bridal show, the Chanel show, Rosie Assoulin, all these designers? I enjoyed that so much.
One thing I also learned from being president and from just being more exposed to fashion is that fashion is different to everyone. Fashion is the skin we put on our bodies, right? It’s what we are and how we want to be perceived, so I think if that’s what makes you be who you want to be, go for it!
Q: You’ve gotten to do internships with some pretty big names in fashion such as Tommy Hilfiger in spring & summer 2016 and Agada Ruiz de la Prada during New York fashion week in fall 2016. What did you learn?
A: Agatha is a huge designer in Europe, so she was doing a fashion week last year. I got the contact because of fashion week in the summer. I met a few people that were working with her, and they went to the men’s show for Tommy; we just clicked! It definitely helped me know what I wanted to do in a good way and in a bad way. I love fashion, but I’m also really interested in going back to school with computer science, and applying what I know from computer science to fashion. I know fashion and technology right now are at the stage of the relationship where they’re just getting to meet each other, but hopefully in the next two years there’ll be more with that.
Q: I’m going to ask a few speed questions! Who’s your favorite fashion designer?
A: Johanna Ortiz.
Q: What’s your favorite piece of clothing?
A: My overalls.
Q: What is the color you think you look best in?
Q: What’s your dream job?
A: Environmental strategist within a fashion company.
Q: Where’s your ideal travel destination?
Q: What’s your favorite Mexican dish?
A: Any kind of taco with guacamole.
Q: American dish?
Q: Do you have a pet?
A: Dog! A little cocker named Cappuccino.
Q: Favorite coffee shop? Order?
A: La Colombe in NYC. Macha latte or an Iced Latte (always with almond milk).
Q: One word to describe your style?
Q: One word to describe yourself?