by Karla Maradiaga, JE ’15
As a junior at Yale who had yet to attend any conferences, I was not sure what to expect at the last ECCSF conference at Mount Holyoke. Thoughts of speeches given by prominent professors and activists came to mind. But the Mount Holyoke conference was much more than that. The conference consisted of several workshops and events that fostered a discussion about the current issues that Chicanos and Latinos face today. One of my favorite discussions was about being a first-generation college student.
Many students offered their perspectives on struggles with the college application process, LGBT issues, socioeconomic status, the disconnect between family and academia, and a sense of obligation to keeping family in mind when formulating career goals. Although I am not a first generation student, my parents attended college and worked during the bulk of my childhood, and I am no stranger to financial difficulties and to cherishing every spare minute of time that my parents could offer. It was very uplifting to hear the perspectives of students that have struggled and overcome many of the same issues that I have faced, but that seem to be silenced in many of today’s universities, in which Latinos are horribly underrepresented. The conference also involved the appearance of Jose Gonzalez, one of the teachers in Arizona who fought against the school administration’s ban of ethnic studies in high schools.
Most importantly, though, the conference provided an opportunity to learn alongside Latinos of many different backgrounds and to begin to formulate friendships with scholars on the East Coast, some of which, I hope will last a lifetime.”