Student Activism and Civic Engagement: Past and Present

Alyssia Flores, Reporter

As part of the fourth Annual Jess Nieto Memorial Conference, the current members and alumni from Latinas Unidas, L.U.P.E. (Latinos Unidos Por Educación), and M.E.Ch.A. (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlan) discuss the work they have done and continue to do in their respective communities and how their experiences with BC student organizations have infl uenced them.

The panelists for the webinar included Jasmine Herrera, a 2021 BC alumni and was part of Latinas Unidas and L.U.P.E., Maggie Ruiz, a 2021 BC alumni, was part of L.U.P.E. and Latines Unidas, Gabriela Gomez, was the founding president and one of the founders of Latinas Unidas, and the commentators were Edith Mata, the BCSGA (Bakersfield California Student Government Association) president and part of Latinas Unidas, and Shehrazad Barraj, the BCSGA director of student activities.

A question that was asked for the panelists was, “What was your experience with Latinas Unidas and why was it important for you to be a part of Latinas Unidas?” Herrera responded by saying that, “ It was very positive and I missed it. It was a huge contribution to my time at Bakersfi eld College.” She continues to say that she was able to get leadership opportunities and improve her communication skills. Ruiz responded by saying, “ it was such a positive experience. It was like a safe space even having conversations.” She continues to say that she really enjoyed it and enjoyed going to the workshops. Gomez responded by saying that, “It was essentially for my personal growth.” She continues to say that Latinas Unidas gave her hope because she left agricultural production and she felt like a failure.

Another question that was asked for Gomez was, “Do you feel that your student leadership experience breaks stereotypes about Latinas?” Gomez responded by saying that, “Most defi nitely yes.” She continues to say that being a part of organizations like Latinas Unidas and having leadership experiences gives you the tool to be successful at your career and also furthering your education.

The webinar continued with a question that was asked of Herrera was, “What advice do you have for Latinas BC students who wish to transfer to UCSB?” Herrera responded by saying that, “getting involved.” She continues to say that getting involved is how you network with other people and get leadership opportunities.

The last question that was asked for all of the panelists was, “Are there other spaces besides higher education where Latina women could organize to help each other that you think would be productive?” Ruiz responded to this question by saying in the workforce. She continues to say that there are stereotypes where women tear otherwomen down and that there could be a better work environment that shows that women are actually uplifting each other.