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Mayra Esquivel: Paying it forward

St. Raphael parishioner helps immigrants through Arkansas United Community Coalition

Published: August 31, 2017   
Mayra Esquivel

Mayra Esquivel is equally passionate about two vocations.

As a newlywed, she recently entered the vocation of marriage with Irvin Camacho in November 2016. But her other vocation has helped shape the person she is today.

Esquivel, 26, knows firsthand the challenges and difficulties that undocumented immigrants face. Driven and ambitious even as a teen, Esquivel had always wanted to attend college and pursue her dreams. But it wasn’t until she graduated from high school in 2009 in Fort Smith and learned that she was undocumented that she saw those plans derailed. Despite receiving a scholarship to attend college, her status prevented her from receiving the funds to make that a reality.

With “angels,” as she calls them, lots of determination, help from her parents and, more importantly, prayer, Esquivel prevailed and received a degree in psychology from the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith in seven years.

Those struggles set her trajectory to speak for those without a voice. In 2012, she began working as a volunteer, but Esquivel now serves as the immigrant integration director for the Arkansas United Community Coalition in Springdale.

Esquivel, who attends St. Raphael Church in Springdale, found her story was empowering for others.

“I feel God put me through these struggles so I could empathize with others in these situations,” the native of Zacatecas, Mexico, said. “There are several people that helped me and even though I may not be able to pay it back, I will pay it forward.”


If you could meet Pope Francis, what would you ask him?

“I would ask him about his relationship with God and how he manages to remain steadfast in his faith in the midst of adversity.”


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