Celebrating Latino/a/x Heritage Month at Pitzer College (September 15–October 15)

Adrian Pantoja, professor of Political Studies and Chicano studies, teaching in the classroom with a whiteboard in the background.

Join Pitzer College as we honor and encourage the study, observance, and celebration of Latino/a/x heritage. We will spotlight members of our community and share information about any related events at Pitzer and The Claremont Colleges. Features will be added throughout September and October.

Pitzer recognizes national history and heritage months as part of its celebration of the diversity of the College and global community. It is also committed to exploring issues related to history, culture, and identity year-round.

Check out other Heritage Months at Pitzer.

Community Spotlight

Xitlaly Franquez '23 has long brown hair and wears a white stop while sitting in front of a green bush.
Xitlaly Franquez ’23

Meet Xitlaly Franquez ’23 (she/they), an environmental analysis major on the environmental science track and a minor in Latinx Studies.

Pitzer Affiliations: Robert Redford Conservancy Fellow, Resident Assistant, and President of the First Gen Club

How do your culture, family background, and history influence your work?

I push myself with the intention to continue empowering my community, who is largely Latinx. There is a long history of environmental injustices, which is why I’m in environmental science. I want to do advocacy around that. My parents are immigrants, so there’s a lot I want to do for everything they have done for me. Their experiences have taught me how to create a sense of belonging away from your place of origin and home.

Tell us about your interest in sustainability in marginalized communities.

My interest came from shock, to put it bluntly. I learned about environmental injustice in a class where we talked about freeway pollution. I thought: “Oh, I live two streets from the freeway. Is this not normal?” I am still just as shocked today. That’s what keeps me in the field. It’s an urgent issue because people’s lives are at stake.

What drew you to Pitzer?

It’s local and a liberal arts college. Coming with an interest in environmental justice, I knew I had to have an understanding of not only science but also how to engage in community work. Pitzer’s core values in environmental sustainability and intercultural understanding drew me because I was trying to mesh the two together.

How did you get to where you are now?

My parents and teachers encouraged me. I was lucky to join a college access program, Thrive Scholars. Applying to colleges was scary because everything was unknown to me, but the program had so many people helping me. I continue to be where I am now because of friends who share the identities that I hold and keep me grounded.

Steffanie Guillermo has long straight dark brown hair and wears silver hoop earrings, a nose ring, and a black and white shirt with geometric patterns.
Steffanie Guillermo
Assistant Professor of Psychology

Meet Assistant Professor of Psychology Steffanie Guillermo (she/her), who has been at Pitzer since 2017. Some of her recent courses include Stereotyping & Prejudice + Practicum and Psychological Statistics + Practicum.

How do your culture, family background, and history influence your work? 

My mom, who is Mexican, and her side of the family taught my sisters and me to be humble, work hard, and think about your family and community in what you do. That has shaped my research, which is about prejudice against racial and ethnic groups, including Latinx populations.

How did you become interested in this research?

As an undergraduate, I took a class called Psychology of Stereotyping Prejudice and Discrimination. I had no idea that these questions about why racial bias persists could be a line of research. I saw that my own identity, Latinx and Mexican, was not well represented in the literature. I wanted to fill that gap. I examine questions of bias toward Latinx communities with the goal of intervening, achieving equity, and reducing bias. 

How did you get to where you are now? What challenges and victories have you experienced? 

I got here thanks to support from my family and mentors who had my back. That guides my mentorship of students at Pitzer. Knowing that my identity is not well represented in this field can be a challenge. I’m aware of it not just for myself but also for my students. I work in my research lab with many students of color, who are historically underrepresented in academia and psychology.

What does this heritage month mean to you? 

Connecting with my culture is always salient to me, but this month it’s more on my mind. I think about cooking with my grandma. It’s connecting with food and culture but also the memories and bonds I have with my family. I listen to Selena Quintanilla year-round, but I’ll listen to more of her music this month!

What drew you to Pitzer?

My sister went to Pitzer. I knew it was a great experience for her, and the values are consistent with my own. It’s so special not just to work at such an amazing place but also to know what it’s meant to my family.

Carlos Alvarez ’15

Meet Carlos Alvarez ’15 (he/him), a Pitzer alumnus and staff member at the Office of the Dean of Faculty.

How do your culture, family background, and history influence your work?  

I come from a low socioeconomic background, and I’m a first gen student with Mexican and Chicano heritage. All of this informs how I work with the students, staff, and faculty I support. I want to help students of color and anyone who feels disenfranchised or has imposter syndrome like I did. I was a transfer student, and my imposter syndrome felt even stronger when I came to Pitzer. Now that I’m back in a different role, it informs the one-on-one attention I provide to reassure people and help them get the best experience.

What challenges and victories have you experienced?  

Higher education is a space where it’s expected to be a seasoned veteran and have a master’s and PhD. It has been a challenge to meet the high standards, but I’ve done a good job of representing the College and helping everyone. A victory I’ve experienced is reshaping faculty support and incorporating further student support in academics. I’m the point person for academic student employment positions, which involves helping faculty through the hiring process—advertising positions and assisting with interviews for technical and research assistants and for my office. We offer students job experience within academic affairs.

I try to be hands-on and recommend students for opportunities. I’ve provided service through Staff CouncilStaff Social Committee, and being a mentor to students of color and clubs. I played a supporting role when the First Gen club was created. I provided assistance to a student to navigate forming the club, getting a budget, and finding a space. I only take a small piece of the credit though, the students put it all together.

What does this heritage month mean to you?  

It’s a reminder that my family and ancestors went through their struggles so I could work at a place like Pitzer and help others. If I ever feel disconnected to my heritage, I’m reminded that the Latinx community and those I love are understanding and supportive at times of need.

Zoom Backgrounds

Celebrate Latino/a/x Heritage Month with one of our Zoom backgrounds.

To download: Click on the image to open a larger file, then download it to your computer.

Latino/a/x Heritage Month Events

Africana Studies: Asian American Studies: Chicanx-Latinx Studies Open House

September 21, 2022
4:15–5:30 p.m.
Walker Beach, Pomona (Walker Lounge, Pomona, in case of rain)

There will be a DJ, raffle prizes, and food.

Healing Through Altar Making: A Participatory Event

October 10, 2022
Drop in between 10 a.m.–1 p.m. and 3–6 p.m.
Humanities Clark Museum, Scripps College

With Ofelia Esparza & Rosanna Ahrens Esparza, National Heritage Fellows.

Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation

Book talk with light lunch

October 11 from 12:15–1:15 p.m.
McConnell Living Room, Pitzer College

Seven years before Brown v. Board of Education, the Mendez family fought to end segregation in California schools. Hear about how award-winning author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh created a picture book based on their story! This talk is funded by the Campus Life Committee, Chicano Latino Student Affairs, and the Intercollegiate Department of Chicana/o Latino/a Studies and is open to the campus community.

Author Bio: Duncan Tonatiuh is an award-winning author-illustrator. He is both Mexican and American. He grew up in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and graduated from Parsons School of Design and Eugene Lang College in New York City. His artwork is inspired by Pre-Columbian art, particularly that of the Mixtec codices. His aim is to create images and stories that honor the past, but that are relevant to people, especially children, nowadays.

Día De Los Muertos Altar Presentation, Lecture, and Reception

October 12, 2022
6–9 p.m.
Humanities Clark Museum, Scripps College

With Ofelia Esparza and Rosanna Ahrens Esparza, master altaristas (altar makers).

In this workshop, students will come together with stories of their own ancestors along with photos, poems, writings, and other personal mementos to contribute to the community ofrenda. There will be a discussion on how this practice of storytelling creates bridges that foster healing through the dignity of their stories. Performance by Mariachi Voz de América. Refreshment will be provided. Co-sponsored by: Chicano Latino Student Affairs and the Intercollegiate Department of Chicanx Latinx Studies.

Latinx Shabbat Dinner

October 14, 2022
5–6 p.m.
McAlister Center for Religious Activities

El Mercadito

October 22, 2022
1–4 p.m.
Pitzer Clocktower Lawn

Presented by Latinx Student Union and Campus Life in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. Come support Latix vendors! There will be food, artisinias, a giveaway & more.

Unboxing the Fernando R. and Enriqueta Gomez Mormon Mexican History Collection

Open through October 2022
Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–6 p.m.
Saturday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.

North Lobby Gallery
The Claremont Colleges Library
800 N. Dartmouth Ave
Claremont, CA 91711

The Claremont Colleges Library is excited and honored to present a summer exhibit that highlights the newly-acquired Fernando R. and Enriqueta Gomez Mormon Mexican History Collection. This collection features a wide range of materials on the history of various Mormon churches in Mexico, including congregational records, mission records, and other published material, much of which is in Spanish and dates from between the 1870s and 1950s. It was gifted to the Claremont Graduate University in August 2020 and is now stewarded by The Claremont Colleges Library, which serves all seven institutions of The Claremont Colleges Consortium. Learn more about the exhibit.

Online Resources

Claremont Resources

Chicano Latino Student Affairs (CLSA)

Intercollegiate Department of Chicana/o Latina/o Studies

Queer Resource Center’s Latinx Resources

Chicanx Latinx Studies Library Catalog

Chicanx, Latinx, and Latin American Studies at The Claremont Colleges Library

Recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month at The Claremont Colleges Library

Additional Online Resources

Latino/a Roundtable of the San Gabriel and Pomona Valley

Los Angeles Public Library: Celebrate Latinx Heritage Month

LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes

Central American Resource Center (Centro de Recursos Centroamericanos)

National Hispanic Media Coalition

League of United Latin American Citizens

PBS SoCal’s “Latino Americans”