The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

First-Year Experience embraces identity, intersectionality with open mic

First-Year Experience embraces identity, intersectionality with open mic - The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Minahil Farhan, General Business sophomore, performs a Bollywood dance during the "Be Bold. Be Heard" event April 18, 2023, in the auditorium at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Photo by Tim Danger Ramos

Jasmine and Jada Twillie, both business and administration seniors, are identical twins with an equal love for Japanese Otaku culture, whose fans enjoy Japanese media like anime, video games and manga. 

To demonstrate their passion, the twins performed a series of dances at the Be Bold. Be Heard event April 18 in the auditorium. 

The pair stepped out dressed in schoolgirl-inspired outfits and danced in an animated fashion. The music excerpts used in the performance were taken from a media franchise called Idolm@ster.

The sound of female Japanese vocalists singing over an energetic and lively pop track blasted from the speakers as the twins struck a face-framing pose.

“I believe in the spreading of Japanese Otaku culture, so the reason why we performed is because of our love of Japanese culture,” Jada Twillie said in an interview after the show.

Be Bold. Be Heard was hosted by the Office of First-Year Experience, University Library, Theatre Club and the Department of Communications, History, and Philosophy. The Twillie twins were one of 10 performances at the event.

The event was meant to inspire participants to express their identity or intersectionality and reflect “Cultivating Me to Understand the Complexities of We,” a theme from the First-Year Common Read book “Tell Me Who You Are” by Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi.

Julianne Ramirez, applied behavior analysis sophomore and peer leader for the Office of First-Year Experience, said she organized the Mariachi Los Jaguares del Sur to kick-start the second year of Be Bold. Be Heard. 

She was among 13 mariachis and stood on stage left playing the violin. The group, which performed songs including “El Relampago” and “La Noche De Mi Mal,” inspired the audience to erupt into cheers and applause. 

“I started playing violin when I was in middle school but that’s a different kind of style,” Ramirez said after their performance. “I started mariachi last August.” 

Performing their first spring concert almost two weeks ago, the group looks forward to joining the Festival de Cascarones later this month. 

History senior and secretary of the Theatre Club Eden Badillo-Garza, left some audience members in tears after presenting a personal monologue about the challenges surrounding sexuality and coming out to her loved ones. 

To demonstrate the conflicted emotions when revealing her sexuality to family members, Garza set the scene to take place after Thanksgiving dinner where she stood in her bedroom contemplating the decision.

“Realistically, I bring home someone that I love — man, woman, person,” Garza said. “I would be able to come to these Thanksgivings with that person and I wouldn’t have to be afraid.”

Garza said participants had three rehearsals prior to taking the mic in front of an audience, and each time she practiced, she noticed the performance change depending on emotions and her ability to vent. She described her piece as “vent art.”

“My queerness is very important to me and I think I wanted to project that to people,” Garza said after the event. “Even if I can’t be out to everyone, I feel safe enough to be out here — my school and my community.”

Andrea “Drea” H. Martinez, president of the Theatre Club, and biology sophomore John Ortiz performed a scene from “Criminal Love,” the club’s play from last semester about the iconic outlaw duo Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow

For this performance, Martinez played Clyde and Ortiz played Bonnie, putting a unique twist on gender norms. For example, in one exchange, Ortiz’s character said, “I don’t want that life. I can do everything just as good as a man can. Why do I have to be the caretaker of the house.”

The performers presented the scene to spread awareness about injustice women face daily in today’s society. The event’s organizers collaborated with Martinez on ideas for the scene.

Martinez said Bonnie displayed “what women go through with a more modern twist because back then there weren’t really women with writing jobs, which incorporated the history aspect.”

General business sophomore Minahil Farhan performed an interpretation of one of her favorite Bollywood dances. Her favorite movie to watch growing up was “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham,” she said. 

Farhan has been dancing since middle school and enjoys mixing different dance genres with her Bollywood experience. 

During her performance, Farhan kept the audience mesmerized with her dynamic moves, raising her arms in the air, shaking her hips and doing backward kicks.

“I chose a Bollywood dance because growing up I would watch a lot of Bollywood movies,” Farhan said. “Something common in the movies is they have lots of dances. This dance and song is very popular in the Bollywood community, which represents me, and I feel comfortable performing it to showcase my identity from South Asia.” 

Farhan said one of her favorite quotes is “Show, don’t tell.” She and other performers at Be Bold. Be Heard brought that expression to life for the audience.


Common Experience (First-Year Experience), Department of Communication, History, & Philosophy, University Library, Theatre Club Presenters.

Performances  Affiliation  Performance Type
Mariachi Los Jaguares del Sur Club Mariachi
Timiera Jackson Student Poem
Robert Cavazos Faculty  Poem
Andrea (Drea) H. Martinez Student Scripted Scene
John Ortiz Student Scripted Scene
Isabella Dominguez Student Monologue
Enrique Olguin Student Summary of novel
Eden Badillo-Garza Student Monologue
Jasmine Twillie Student Dance
Jada Twillie  Student Dance
Minahil Farhan Student Dance
Frankie Vazquez Student Monologue 


About the Authors

Samantha Denisse Medina Pow
Samantha Denisse Medina Pow is a junior majoring in communications with a minor in computer science at Texas A&M-San Antonio. She is a First-Year Writing Tutor at the Writing, Language, and Digital Composing Center at the university. In her spare time, she enjoys hobbies such as learning to sew, embroidery, and binge watching shows. Upon graduation, she hopes to pursue a graduate degree in higher education leadership.
Marley Walker
Marley Walker is a communication first-year sophomore at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. In addition to being a full-time student, she recently began writing for El Espejo magazine and works in her hometown at a craft beer and wine bar known as The Bakery Pub. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to live music, finding new coffee shops and supporting local businesses. Upon graduating, she hopes to explore the world as a journalist.
Tim Castillo
Timothy “Tim” Castillo is a junior at Texas A&M University-San Antonio majoring in business and minoring in communications. He received an associate degree in science from Palo Alto College in 2020. In his spare time, he enjoys exploring different music genres, binge watching shows and going plant/thrift shopping with friends. Upon graduating, he hopes to use his degree to give back to the community of San Antonio.

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