Editor’s note: this post is not an endorsement related to the 2019 Dallas Mayoral election.
If you’ve kept up with the Dallas Mayoral race this Spring, you’ve likely met or seen Mariana Griggs. She is wife to Scott Griggs, longtime Oak Cliff resident and one of two candidates left in the race. With the election day coming up on June 8th, Mariana has had her hands full with events, forums, and daily campaign activities–all while helping raise their three kids.
“Our regular life is on hold until we win this race,” she said to me with a smile as we sat down for a few brief minutes to chat.
What you might not know about Mariana is that she really likes bugs. Seriously, bugs! It all started on day when she was watching a show on National Geographic that featured an Entomologist in Hawaii studying, well, bugs. As he methodically worked on identifying the bugs found on a corpse, she had a moment of clarity:
“This is the most interesting thing I’ve ever seen and everything I’ve wanted to do.”
Just like that, Mariana’s love for bug life began to grow. She took special interest in the forensic side of entomology and the stories of bugs and their relationship to deceased people.
So, she decided to get her MS from Texas A&M University with in Forensic Entomology and, in doing so, became one of the first to study forensics in the Entomology department.
As things progressed, she had to make a decision: Go on and pursue a PhD in Entomology or enter the workforce? As she weighed her options, she realized her options in the workforce might be limited.
But then again, maybe not…
Her then-boyfriend Scott Griggs went to work. Maybe she would find a position in Dallas, after all? Sure enough, he eventually helped Mariana find and apply for a job at the medical examiner’s office in Dallas. Just like that she had swapped places with that Entomologist she once saw on the National Geographic show (of course, this time in Dallas, not Hawaii).
A few years later, one of her coworkers was having a housewarming in Oak Cliff and invited Mariana and Scott. They hadn’t spent much time in the area but they happily obliged and made a visit. “Just like that, we fell in love with the place,” she said.
They quickly found a house, met the owners, and fell in love with the place. Their ‘new’ house originally belonged to Vernon Singleton, Dallas’ former County Commissioner (you know, the one that Singleton Blvd. is named after…).
Singleton’s daughter invited Mariana to be a member of her Garden Club when they first met. Mariana was so happy to be included that she agreed to join and even chauffeur some of the older members of the club to and from Garden shops. “They would often tell me about the older days of Oak Cliff, and what life was like for them for many years,” Mariana reflected. Singleton’s daughter eventually sold Mariana and Scott their dream home.
After that, Mariana continued to follow her passion for bugs. She was offered an adjunct at Baylor University, which she accepted and filled for a little more than three years - commuting three days a week to and from Dallas. She then worked at Bishop Dunne for a bit and most recently has served as an adjunct professor at El Centro.
“I’ve absolutely loved my time at El Centro. Perhaps more than any other time before, I really feel like I’m able to inspire people to further study something I’m passionate about,” she said.
Truthfully, Mariana never really wanted to be in the classroom. But she was good at it and felt comfortable. “More than anything, I enjoy facilitating that information for other people,” she said.
For instance, she recently had one 45-year-old student that had never been to the zoo. “I simply couldn’t believe it!” she exclaimed. So, she did the only sensible thing you can do: She packed up the class and took everyone to the zoo!
Mariana and Scott have lived in Oak Cliff 17 years now. They were married in their house and have spent many years engaging the community around them.
The Stevens Park Estates Neighborhood Association was likely the first official involvement they had in the neighborhood together. Mariana was the social chair.
One day, she overheard something about a contest Dryers Ice Cream was putting on for neighborhoods in Texas. They were looking for the best neighborhoods and asked that people to write an essay explaining why their neighborhood was the best.
She immediately went to work, explaining that she personally grew up without a neighborhood. “I didn’t really have kids to play with and to be able to have that was something so special,” she said.
People just wanted to be together and I wanted to capture that.
She won the contest and Dryers sponsored an Ice Cream party for the whole neighborhood. As the social chair, I think she definitely did her job.
Mariana and Scott Griggs both live in Oak Cliff, TX and have three lovely children. On June 8th, Scott Griggs will learn if he is elected to the Mayor position in Dallas.