Lillian Mejia: Artist and Immigrant

By Christy Kim

Lillian aka Lily

Meet Lillian, also known as Lily, who is a strong-willed, hardworking, and passionate Dominican Republic woman. She is a sophomore here at Wheaton College, majoring in art with a concentration in graphic design. And though art is her concentrated study in her undergraduate years, it is also her lifelong passion. To understand Lily, one must understand the importance and the story of her family.

Family Background

She grew up in a close-knit Hispanic household, which looks different from an average family structure. She has her parents, a mom and dad, as well as two sisters and a brother. This family structure also includes members of her non-immediate family such as aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. They all live in Illinois as well.

Her family structure is centered around a deep familial bond, even with more distant family members. And their origin story in the United States was a captivating one. Lily shared about one of her life’s most challenging struggles. When she was 10 years old, her parents had trouble with getting settled. They immigrated from the Dominican Republic and struggled to obtain permanent residency.

It came down to a point where her parents prepared her and her siblings to potentially live with other friends and family. They were afraid of deportation or losing residential status. But they were able to overcome the fear of deportation together and remain the family that they are today. 

Lily’s Passions: A Love for Art

Within her family, which is an integral part of understanding who Lily is, lies a shared passion for art. She talked about how this is a shared hobby and talent with her sister and also her mother. Her interests started from home. Lily’s personal pull and attraction to art stems from the way she says it makes her feel. “I am my happiest when I am drawing or creating digital graphics on my tablet. I feel more relaxed and less pressure.” This pushed Lily to exclusively study art. She decided she wanted to fully pursue her dreams. She told me what her ideal career would be, if she had the option to pick.

“I would love to be able to get paid for what I love to do. I would love to get to a place where this is a financially secure option!”

Motivational Factors

Lily is an incredibly hard worker when she is motivated. However, she has many areas of creativity and passion which can seem “all over the place.” This is what Lily perceives as a weakness.

But when she is able to tap into her creative flow and determination to succeed, she can truly put her mind to anything that she wants to do. This not only pertains to art but also in the particular world issues that she holds closely to her heart.

Activism that Hits Close to Home

She talked about the importance of immigration reform, as it is a story that resonates with her family, as well as the Black Lives Matter movement, feminism, and truly anything that pertains to fighting for equality. She is an advocate for the rights of citizenship and residency for immigrants, like herself and her family. Lily believes in ensuring that every single person deserves to have their rights fought. She believes this is necessary to achieve the freedoms that this country has promised its people.

Lily in the Future

Lily wants to go far in life. She is self-motivated and  her motto “to strive to improve and be better” than she was before keeps her moving forward. Her passions for family, art, and social justice issues are what make her who she is today. Her sense of drive and persistence will be the pillars of her future success and her presence as a strong Dominican Republican woman will surely make waves in her future.