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Krizia Dueñas on the Power to Change Things with Your School

Krizia Dueñas has been an integral part of the Exploration High School team since joining this past spring, helping with the graphic design and marketing strategies. I sat down with her to chat about her work and belief in our school.

First off, thank you, Krizia, for your tremendous work and creative insights during this pre-operational year - we're grateful to have you part of our team! You've added a lot of expertise in graphic design and marketing. What does that mean, and what do you love about your work? Design to me means finding creative ways to solve problems visually, and marketing is taking big concepts and simplifying them to making it easy to understand and reach the largest number of people that would be interested. I love being able to solve problems using something that looks good along with a specific framework of strategic and design thinking. Lastly, I love being able to provide people with something that is cool and interesting to them.

We all have different journeys of figuring out what brings us joy in our work, and at Exploration High School we believe in igniting passions that drive meaningful work. How did you discover your passion for this work?

My older sister went to school for architecture, and I always loved seeing everything she made and knew I wanted to do something similar. My dad wanted me to be an engineer and it interested me a little bit but I wanted to do something a little more creative and fluid than engineering.

I found Product Design at the University of Minnesota which combined engineering, design, marketing, psychology, and more all into one. This was perfect for me but I later found I loved marketing a lot more than I thought I did from working in my student position as the Marketing Director for La Raza Latinx Student Cultural Center at the University. I was able to advertise all our events, make flyers, run ads, work with other cultural centers, and work alongside all my friends there. I fell in love with doing that position and later added marketing to my major. 

That's awesome, and thanks for sharing some of the graphic design work over the years. What kind of school would one have to go to for design? There are many options! There are schools specifically for art and design like MCAD (Minneapolis College of Art and Design) and MIAD (Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design). And there are universities with great design programs as well like University of Minnesota or University of Wisconsin - Stout. It all depends on the specific field of design you want to go into. You joined the team this past spring. Can you talk a bit about why you believe in Exploration High School? I believe in Exploration High School because it is unique and has a mission that works. The school empowers the students and treats them like individuals that each have their own voice, talents, and goals. I think this school will create smart, powerful individuals that believe in themselves, and can make a change in the world. You capture it so well! Exploration High School moves away from a traditional school model and rethinks how space, time, roles, and goals look and feel like to meet the needs of the 21st century. Thinking back to your high school experience, how is Exploration High School different? It is very different from my high school experience.  I went to high school in a small town 40 minutes from Minneapolis and except for the friends I made and the extracurricular I was in, I really didn’t like high school. I hated waking up at 6am each morning to sit in each class listening to a teacher who you could tell didn’t care until 3pm. I had so many teachers that just tried to fill the class period and give us worksheets that had nothing to do with the class, like one teacher who would give us worksheets to match English colloquialisms with what they meant - and this was a science teacher.

I did PSEO at a nearby college as soon as I could, and I think being able to start on my post secondary education while still in high school was the thing most similar to Exploration High School.

I'm glad you were able to navigate through the challenging experience. Sadly, it's too common of an experience for high schoolers that aren't set up for success in today's world. If you were an Exploration High School student, what do you think you would love most about your high school experience?

I would love the freedom and agency. I feel like I would love to plan my own big projects and work with teachers that would actually care about me and want to see me succeed. I would also love not having a repetitive set schedule that I have to follow everyday and I would actually feel like I have a voice and the power to change things in the community. Alright, last question! It's probably my favorite to ask anyone. If you could go back to your eighth grade year heading into high school, what advice would you give yourself? When I was in middle school and in high school, I didn’t know I had the power to change things because growing up I was always just told to listen to the authority and do as they tell you. Now that I’m older, I realize that I would’ve had the power to change things and talk to other students, teachers, and administration to make a difference in the school and community. I would’ve told my 8th-grade self that I had more of a voice than I thought to make things better in the school system and community. 

Thanks for sharing that wise advice! And thanks for all you do, Krizia, as a team member as well as laying a strong foundation for future Explorers and making a difference in the world.

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