- Route: Sierra
- Ride Year: 2024
- Hometown: Mexico & The Rio Grande Valley
- School Year: Graduate
- Major: Public Health
- Email: email@example.com
Bienvenidos! My name is Maleni Arredondo, and I am a 4+1 Public Health graduate student at The University of Texas at Austin. My concentrations are Field Epidemiology and Social and Behavioral Sciences. As a woman and a part of the Latino community, I am very proud of my heritage and interested in empowering marginalized American immigrant communities. Over the past four years, I have served under different leadership university positions, including research assistant and coordinator positions in health awareness and investigative initiatives like Ojeda LEAD, Proyecto SEED, cherryish yourself, consensual, TIP, and SAYCARE.
When I’m not running around The 40 Acres, like a chicken with its head cut off, I enjoy spending time with my dog, Mulan, my close friends, and my family. I take my cafecito black with a tablespoon of honey. In my free time, you can find me coffee-shop hopping, hiking an Austin trail, at the nearest dog park, or partaking in some good old retail therapy.
I am also an avid stress-baker, which is actually one of my fundraising initiatives for my 2024 ride. Make sure to give @bakeasmile.co a follow on Instagram and join me as I document this crazy journey.
I am also a big baseball fan. Go ‘stros! My favorite author is Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Gabo), and my fav TV show is Gilmore Girls. You can often find me quoting random pop culture moments and movie references in my jokes, so yes, my sense of humor is broken. Okie, speed round of fun facts - I was born in Mexico and moved to South Texas when I was 9 years old. My biggest pet peeve is slow walkers, and I HATE cancer. Please join the cause and show my lovely teammates some LOVE ♡
I am trilled to announce my new role as the 2024 Team's Community Engagement Co-Chair. Please feel free to email Shaunak Sathe and I at firstname.lastname@example.org for inquiries.
Why I Ride
Applying to this program alone has been such a journey for me. I had considered it many times and had avoided the decision more times than I can count. Texas4000 has such a beautiful cause that, dare I admit, is very personal to me.
Since 2018 I've avoided all conversations about my best friend's passing. I've repressed all my emotions about him, whether heart-warming or heart-wrenching. I've selfishly left him in a dark abyss of a clouded memory that feels so distant.
Riding a bike to Alaska appears so physically daunting. Which, let's be realistic, for someone who struggles with asthma; it is. For me, the journey is not just the potential of coughing up a lung or a combination of routes and highways. To me, the journey is the daunting opportunity of facing the reality of loss. To face the boy who (as cheesy as he would think this is) is gone, but should never be forgotten. To smile at the memory of Hector, who ironically, broke his arm in the first grade showing me his new mountain bike. For Hector who forced a smile in his most painful days. Who was never afraid to crack a joke at your expense. To the boy who played video games even when it was too hard to stay awake. To the boy who managed to step on me at every school talent show dance. To the boy who fought leukemia like the Lucha libre luchadores he would watch on TV Azteca. To my first platonic love, to my best friend, para su familia, and to the strong man he would be today. This ride is an homage to his life. It celebrates the reunion of two elementary school friends, who although a little distant now, have never lost one another.
Hector, perdoname. Sorry for skipping out on you and our memories. For not wanting to ride my bike with you at sunset like you always asked for when we were little. Pinky promise this ride to Alaska, under the cloudy pink skies you loved so much, is for you. You're always with me. I know. So, summer 2024, we ride. We ride to Alaska together.
Besos y abrazos,
Tu palomita (tu piquito de oro)