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Erika Nava: Running with spirit

College student organized 5K to raise money for parish playground

Published: August 31, 2017   
Erika Nava

Erika Nava will not slow down. Whether she’s running for a cause or gathering young adults for Catholic fellowship, her work all goes back to faith.

Raised in Russellville, Nava, 24, came to the United States from Guerrero, Mexico, at the end of 2000. She felt like “a little ghost, it was tough,” sitting in an English-speaking classroom, not yet knowing the language. Nava is in her junior year at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, studying early childhood education to become an ESL teacher.

“I know how hard it is to learn the English language. I’m trying to teach those little kids not to go through the same struggle I did,” Nava said.

Nava said being a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient is motivation.

“I feel like even though the world is all messed up right now and they don’t want us here, we should prove them wrong,” she said.

At St. Augustine Church in Dardanelle, she helped start the Hispanic young adult group, River Valley Millennials, this year. Adults from area parishes meet every Friday for dinner and to discuss fundraising.

“All the money we collect is going to go to scholarships for Hispanics to go to school,” she said. The group recently won third place in the national V Encuentro “Nuestra Alegría Viral Video Challenge,” receiving $250.

Last year, Nava coordinated the parish’s annual 5K to raise money for a playground and collected about $17,000. She has competed in about 30 races, including marathons and 10Ks.

“God gave me the gift of running so I want to use my talents to help others.


What is your favorite prayer?

“I have a morning prayer. I usually just make up my own. I just say, ‘Dear God thank you for everything you’ve given me, protect me from evil, let me love like you love and let me reflect your love to others, Amen.’”

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