Why did you choose to major in Chicano/a Studies?
Pitzer College was really the first opportunity that I had to critically understand myself as a Chicana in the United States. As a second-generation Mexican American from Los Angeles who spent every summer in Mexico with relatives and grew up bi-cultural in every way, it was through Chicano/a Studies that I was able to truly understand the contributions, sacrifices, challenges and opportunities for my community. I was always proud of my heritage, but Chicano/a Studies helped me put this into context. I used this knowledge to empower myself and to dedicate myself to work that values the diversity that each of us brings to the table and promotes the advancement of all communities.
Describe your current occupation and how what you learned as a Chicano/a Studies major helped you achieve success.
Currently, I serve as associate director for the Campaign for College Opportunity. The Campaign was founded to make sure that California keeps the promise that every eligible Californian has the chance to go to college. I am an advocate for higher education because getting a college education changed the trajectory of my life. As the daughter of an immigrant who worked her entire life as a seamstress, I truly appreciate the opportunities that having a college degree brought my way. I have the flexibility of having choices in my career path, of being well prepared for the jobs I seek and, more importantly, doing good work that helps serve others—at its core this is clearly what I’ve learned from Pitzer College and as a Chicano/a Studies major.
What was your most memorable course in Chicano/a Studies?
My thesis work in Chicano/a Studies included research on the tracking of Latino students at a local high school in Alhambra. It was clear that most students in honors or in the courses required for college were not Latino even though they were a majority of the student population. This research was not surprising, but still disturbing. Unfortunately more than ten years later we continue to see huge disparities in college-going rates for students of color. At the Campaign for College Opportunity, we are sponsoring the Early College Commitment Act (Senate Bill 890), which ensures that students and their families, beginning in middle school, understand that if they prepare for college, California will save them a spot and provide those in need with financial aid.
For more information visit www.collegecampaign.org or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.