Interview by B Vivit

Ana Fajardo was a little quiet during class but when you could give her the mic, it was overwhelming the amount of emotion that came out of such a small package! An ambassador for us from Florida, she's visited a few times since her time with the scholarship(due to another opportunity with Another scholarship!) and we were so happy she stopped in to say hi. We truly cannot wait to see all the incredibe programs that she's working on with 2019 QBP Bike Mechanic Scholarship recipient Kristiina Thompson as well. The QBP Bike Mechanic Scholarship brings together lots of folks from all walks of life and creates a country-wide (and starting this year, nearly continent-wide) support structure for those who have the most trouble picturing where they fit into this industry. As well as teaching hands-on mechanics to folks trying to take the next step in their careers. 
 
BV: What is your name? Where are you from? What pronouns do you prefer? Fajardo and her bench partner Kyla Purtell show of their completed road bike overhaul.
AF: My name is Ana Fajardo and I live in Gainesville, FL. I use she/her and they/them pronouns.

BV: When did you attend the United Bicycle Institute during the QBP Scholarship (year and month)? And how many years did you apply before receiving the scholarship? 
AF: I attended UBI in October 2018. Wow, today marks one year from when my class started and now I'm emotional! I applied to the scholarship twice. The second year I kind of gave up on it because I felt I was already doing everything I could be doing to be eligible, but turned in the application anyway. I was so happy to be chosen that year.

BV: What impacted you most about your experience with your classmates?
AF: Being around my classmates made me feel less alone navigating the industry. We had a dynamic group. I was inspired by everyone's accomplishments, the differences in our backgrounds, personalities, and experience. I loved feeding off of that energy, and I tried to take that back home with me in hopes of inspiring more WTFs to pursue cycling.

"Being around my classmates made me feel less alone navigating
the industry...I'd say the most impactful advice I received
was to keep applying for the opportunities that you want."
 
BV: What is the most helpful tip or trick that you learned during your time atFajardo and classmates, Emilytricia Lopez Marchena, Kalyn Campbell, and Sarah Ferrer. UBI?
AF: If we're thinking about helpful life tips, I'd say the most impactful advice I received was to keep applying for the opportunities that you want. With bicycle mechanics, the class taught me that I have the proper foundation to fix bicycles, and even if I forget the exact procedures, I'm not afraid to figure it out anymore. 

BV: What job did you have prior to the scholarship class, and did you change jobs, job titles, or responsibilities after the scholarship?
AF: I was the Outreach Coordinator at a non-profit bicycle collective, but prior to receiving the award, I was just offered a position teaching nutrition education. I'm still in that job, but I've started leading more educational workshops at the bike shop in my spare time.
By the time I started a new job, I began thinking that a career in the industry was unrealistic. Now, I am positive that this is the industry I belong in. I'm taking every possible opportunity for professional development so that I can use my set of experience to make the bicycle industry better. I'd describe my dream job as a position where I'd get to work with bicycles, teach, and contribute to DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) initiatives.

"Now, I am positive that this is the industry I belong in."
 
BV: You received another scholarship almost immediately after returning from your experience at UBI. Can you tell us a little about that experience and achievement?
AF: Oh yes! I was awarded Adventure Cycling Association's Greg Siple Award for Young Adult Bike Travel, in the Outdoor Leadership category. That was another opportunity that I've kept track of over the years, but felt too intimidated and unworthy to apply. They were impressed with my dedication to empowering other women, trans, femme, and non-binary folx to try bike travel.
Because of that award, I had the chance to attend a bike tour leadership course in Oregon. It was such a treat to stop by UBI before starting that class. I am halfway through the outreach project I proposed for the award. So far, I've taught a "how-to" workshop on getting into bike travel, and I hosted a successful bike overnight ride for Bike Your Park Day.
Next on my list is organizing a WTF bikepacking trip in early 2020. In my experience, a lot of the cyclists I know are hesitant to push their limits because they're afraid that they aren't capable of doing a long, off-road bike ride while carrying their gear. I'll be there to do a lot of the logistical work for the group and encourage them along the ride!

BV: Any last thoughts you have?
AF: I miss UBI every day and think of Ashland as a second home. I owe so much of that to you and the rest of the group. I'm so proud to see people from Gainesville applying for the scholarship since I received it. That lets me know that we're making progress, even though the work isn't over. Also, I'm hoping to go to NAHBS in Dallas next year to reunite with some of the class-- hopefully I can meet other fellow scholarship recipients too!
 
"I miss UBI every day and think of Ashland as a second home."