Texting in the Fast Lane

As technology becomes more closely tied to our daily lives, a growing problem for young drivers is using gadgets while behind the wheel. Cellphone texting is distracting and endangering the lives of its users. A group being seriously affected is teenage drivers who despite being new to driving are risking it all to send that “important” text message while on the road.

Most teens think that they are invincible. They have the attitude that it can happen to others, but not them. In my generation, we are completely overwhelmed with technology. It seems almost impossible to put your phone down to concentrate on one thing. One second you are glancing down at your phone rather than at road can change everything. Ignoring the warning signs and living in an “it could never happen to me” attitude, teens are often surprised at almost colliding with another vehicle when looking down at their cell phones for a split second.

A report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 26% of all American teens 16-17 have texted while driving, and 43% have talked on a cell phone while driving. Texting while in the use of a moving vehicle has become one of the leading causes of death for people within the ages of sixteen to twenty, accounting for more than five thousand deaths each year according to a study reported by lifescience.com. They also reported that another study done by the University of Utah, simulated young drivers texting while driving and found that they ran over virtual pedestrians, went in and out of their lane and were extremely distracted.

Several teens have told me their stories of near encounters because of using their phone while driving. Driving his vehicle on the Border Highway in West Texas, 17-year-old Luis Oliveros said he almost side-swiped another vehicle because he was checking his phone exiting the off-ramp. “I was driving on the highway and I took the exit off, but I was checking my phone at the same time,” said Luis. “When I got off the 375, I was going to switch lanes, but another car was coming that I hadn’t noticed because I was using my phone…I only noticed it because [the driver] honked and I swerved to my left to avoid hitting it.”

Rainelle Espinoza, age 17, almost fell victim to her distraction, while driving when she reached down to grab the cell phone she let slip from her hand. Her vehicle started to veer to the next lane, but Rainelle “quickly reacted” and was able continue her commute unharmed.

Many tales of “close call” exist for teens who decide to text message while behind the wheel. Amanda Guzman said her turning point came after a situation similar happened to her. “The fact that I had to slam on my brakes hard changed everything,” the 19-year-old said, adding that she’s trying to be a safer driver.

The split second it takes for a driver to take their eye of the road makes a drastic difference when looking at the statistics and research done. Driving demands responsibility, concentration and focus. To give the situation what it demands you can’t be doing anything other than driving. Remember no one is above this; everyone has the chances of being in an accident. You can help eliminate those chances by being a safe driver and not use your phone, mp3 player or have any other kind of distractions around while driving.

By Cassie Barraza

Texting in the Fast Lane

As technology becomes more closely tied to our daily lives, a growing problem for young drivers is using gadgets while behind the wheel. Cellphone texting is distracting and endangering the lives of its users. A group being seriously affected is teenage drivers who despite being new to driving are risking it all to send that “important” text message while on the road.

Most teens think that they are invincible. They have the attitude that it can happen to others, but not them. In my generation, we are completely overwhelmed with technology. It seems almost impossible to put your phone down to concentrate on one thing. One second you are glancing down at your phone rather than at road can change everything. Ignoring the warning signs and living in an “it could never happen to me” attitude, teens are often surprised at almost colliding with another vehicle when looking down at their cell phones for a split second.

A report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 26% of all American teens 16-17 have texted while driving, and 43% have talked on a cell phone while driving. Texting while in the use of a moving vehicle has become one of the leading causes of death for people within the ages of sixteen to twenty, accounting for more than five thousand deaths each year according to a study reported by lifescience.com. They also reported that another study done by the University of Utah, simulated young drivers texting while driving and found that they ran over virtual pedestrians, went in and out of their lane and were extremely distracted.

Several teens have told me their stories of near encounters because of using their phone while driving. Driving his vehicle on the Border Highway in West Texas, 17-year-old Luis Oliveros said he almost side-swiped another vehicle because he was checking his phone exiting the off-ramp. “I was driving on the highway and I took the exit off, but I was checking my phone at the same time,” said Luis. “When I got off the 375, I was going to switch lanes, but another car was coming that I hadn’t noticed because I was using my phone…I only noticed it because [the driver] honked and I swerved to my left to avoid hitting it.”

Rainelle Espinoza, age 17, almost fell victim to her distraction, while driving when she reached down to grab the cell phone she let slip from her hand. Her vehicle started to veer to the next lane, but Rainelle “quickly reacted” and was able continue her commute unharmed.

Many tales of “close call” exist for teens who decide to text message while behind the wheel. Amanda Guzman said her turning point came after a situation similar happened to her. “The fact that I had to slam on my brakes hard changed everything,” the 19-year-old said, adding that she’s trying to be a safer driver.

The split second it takes for a driver to take their eye of the road makes a drastic difference when looking at the statistics and research done. Driving demands responsibility, concentration and focus. To give the situation what it demands you can’t be doing anything other than driving. Remember no one is above this; everyone has the chances of being in an accident. You can help eliminate those chances by being a safe driver and not use your phone, mp3 player or have any other kind of distractions around while driving.

July 2010

Papers the Movie

There are 65,000 undocumented students who graduate every year from high school without “papers.” Can you imagine growing up in the United States and graduating from high school just to learn that your options for higher education and a career in this country are extremely limited because of your immigration status? Many of these students have lived in the U.S. for the majority of their life and consider themselves to be All-American. Without proper immigration paperwork, undocumented youth cannot legally work in the country, are not allowed admission into some universities and live in constant fear of being deported.

Film-maker Anne Galisky directed the documentary film Papers, to highlight the challenges undocumented youth face. Her film shares the stories of five undocumented immigrants whose American Dream was crushed due to their status. Their brave stories demonstrate the struggles that they must face as undocumented immigrants. It is their story that can help shed light on this issue and help bring about change.

Monica’s Story
“I’ve never saw myself as an illegal person. I also thought of myself of someone who was part of the U.S. I do normal things that kids here do. I go shopping, I have a boyfriend, I love fast food, I never thought my status can have an effect on me,” said Monica. Monica and her family are originally from Guatemala. While not being able to finish high school, her mother, brother, boyfriend and she were deported back to Guatemala. Monica currently resides in Guatemala with her boyfriend.

Juan’s Story
Juan Carlos and his mother came to the US when Juan Carlos was little. They are originally from Mexico. “It’s just me and my mom. When I was little, she provided for me and I want to make her proud….Getting my High School diploma would be great. Although I never thought that my status would interfere with me achieving my dream. I don’t agree with what the government is doing…It’s not fair and I don’t think that they should send us (the children) back to their native home. We really had no say in our parents’ actions and we shouldn’t be punished because we don’t have papers.”

Simone’s Story
An African woman who had migrated with her brother graduated from high school. Although she has not been sent back to her home country, she does mention the struggle that she must deal by not having any papers. “Getting a job is hard. I don’t have a social security number, and when I go to interviews, I tell them my story. They look at me and then some of them say ‘We’ll get back to you’ and others are nice enough that they give me a job that I did not originally apply for, but it’s a job that can help support me and my family.” Simone must face these struggles every day. Because she does not have papers, she mentions that she must always be ready when her bosses let her go because she really has no documentation that can help her stay.

Yo Sub’s Story
Yo Sub, an intelligent teenage young man with high grades and test scores, cannot benefit from the great universities that are offered here in the United States. “I already graduated from high school and I applied to eighteen universities. The next day, I received eighteen rejection letters. The reason why was because I did not have any papers to be in this country. I felt like I took all those advanced classes and extra study sessions for nothing. Nobody wants me to be in their university.” Yo Sub is currently fighting the constant battle of being accepted into college and to get the same benefits that most citizen teenagers his age get.

Jorge’s Story
“I lived in the US, since I was little. My mom and I had made it our permanent home. She has done everything for me and everything I do, I do it to make her proud…I have used my strength to fight the constant battle of being accepted socially and as well as being able to help other immigrant students to be accepted in the US to be able to continue on their education here in the US. I have helped others to get the DREAM Act, that will allow undocumented students six years of citizenship to continue their education at the college level.” Jorge did graduate from high school and is going to college. Although getting a degree would be Jorge’s dream, he still finds that the battle after maintaining a degree will be present, especially since he does not have any papers that will allow him to get a job.

The stories of these students are just some out 65,000 undocumented students who graduate from high school annually with little hopes for a future in the U.S. The Papers film has exposed the constant struggles that many undocumented students will face. The documentary also reveals potential legislation which would give these undocumented youth an opportunity to become legal citizens – the D.R.E.A.M Act.

By Claudia N. Oliva
For more information, about this issue and the film, check out the Papers website: PaperstheMovie.com.

Gaining Acceptance

Acceptance….It is a simple word to understand, but hard to gain. Despite the progress our society has made in recognizing people from various diverse backgrounds and lifestyles, a group that still struggles for acceptance is homosexuals.

As homosexuality is growing within our community, it is still difficult for young Latina lesbians to go around the city and walk with their head held high and show off their gay pride. According to three brave lesbian women, it is the difficult for young Latino homosexuals to come out of the closet and tell their loved ones that they love someone of the same gender.

“It’s not really easy to tell your parents that you’re gay. I mean you really can’t just walk up to them and say ‘Hey mom and dad, how was your day? Oh by the way I’m gay! Alright well I love you!’ It’s really hard,” said Magdalena Sanchez, a high school senior. Despite her worries, Magdalena’s parents were quite understandable when she told them. She felt very fortunate that they did not love her any less.

For some Latina lesbians, their religion becomes an issue for them as well. Maria Portales, a college freshman, feared that she would be kicked out by her church and not be able to worship as she normally did after announcing her romantic interest in other girls.

“I remember the time I ‘came out of the closet’ to my parents. They called my abuela, because she is considered to be the wisest of us all and the one who keeps the faith in tact within the family. When she came to my house, she had some palms and Holy Water with her. She started hitting me with the palms and threw Holy Water at me and yelling ‘Sale el demonio’, (Devil out of that body!),” laughed Maria.

At the time of this incident, Maria had thought that her relationship with her grandma would change, but was wrong. “We both look back at that day and laugh. My abuela has accepted me and has supported me and my lifestyle, as well as my parents. I am very grateful,” added Maria.

“The number of gay Hispanics is increasing rapidly, as well as the questions regarding our loyalty to our faith. We do sometimes fear if the Church or God will punish us because of the choices we have made. However, that day has not come yet! Whatever obstacles we must face, we [the gay community] will face it together with our head held high, and hope that our family, as well as our church leaders will back us no matter what,” said Christina Nevarez, a sophomore college student.

By Claudia Oliva

Book Helps Latinas Aim High

In history class, there are many famous women that young girls can look up to. Notable women have become historical icons for their activism, innovation, music, acting or what they represent. Women like Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Earhart, Harriet Tubman, Jackie Kennedy have been an inspiration to young girls. As we look up at all these women, it is rare to read about famous Latinas in history books.

The book Aim High: Extraordinary Stories of Hispanic & Latina Women, written by Laura Contreras-Rowe has highlighted over twenty biographies of Hispanic and Latina women who have achieved success in several field and at several levels. In her recent book, Contreras-Rowe sought to shed light on the achievements of amazing Latinas. Below are brief introductions to a few of the women highlighted in her book.

Former Treasure of the United States
Being the eldest daughter of ripening crop pickers, Anna Escobedo Cabral, spend her early years moving from different elementary school and middle school till her parents had decided to settle in Banning California, where her parents work two to three jobs a day just to make bread for their children. As Anna got older, her family went on food stamps and shopped in thrift stores, while her father had to recover from his injury that almost left him disabled.

By the time she graduated in high school, she was sixteen years and with no intention in going to college, her math teacher had filled out her application and was accepted in University of California in Santa Cruz. It was till her sophomore year, she met her husband that was a law student at UC Davis, and they fell in love and married. By her junior year, she was pregnant and left college to raise her family. She returned years later and got her Bachelor’s in Political Science and Master’s in Public Administration and moved to Washington D.C., where she began as the Executive Staff Director with the U.S. Senate Republican Conference Task Force on Hispanic Affairs. As her career took off, in 2003, she was nominated by former President George W. Bush to serve as Treasurer of the United States.

As her term ended, she now is the Senior Advisor in External Affairs to the Inter- American Development Bank (IDB) , which help Latin American countries by creating projects like building power plants to offering better education, having cleaner water, and opening new small business to offer employment. Anna believes that “every Latina should invest in [themselves] and get an education, if [they] improve in [their] abilities and skill set, [they] will increase [their] earning potential and open doors or opportunity that were previously closed. Then [they] can help others do the same.”

The Drag Racer
Erica Ann Ortiz, born to Puerto Rican/Cuban parents, that she would later be raised by her grandparents in Orlando, Florida because of her parents splitting up. Erica had a strict Catholic upbringing and was always pressured in getting an education. However, as she got to high school, she became involved in sports, which became her ultimate outlet to socialize with others.

At eighteen years old, she had her first boyfriend which had an abusive behavior towards. The both of them constantly argued and one of their fights left them to suffer a terrible car accident that left them in the hospital for a couple of weeks. Erica was the driver at the time of accident and by her boyfriend’s behavior towards she lost confidence behind the wheel.

Erica did end her relationship with him and began dating Denis Lugo, who would helped her gain her confidence back in driving. The both of them married and in 2001, she earned her nine second competition license, which allowed her to become an elite driver. Later that year, Lugo and her went their separate ways.

As the years passed, Erica became a professional driver and in 2006, she in the pro category where she finished in second, the first woman to ever do that. She also broke six second barrier and broke the 200 MPH barrier which was significant for any driver of their gender. In her profession, she has encountered people that do and do not support her, or acknowledges her as a professional driver.

Yet, she continues her journey as a professional driver and since her car is being remodeled, she is part of the Dixie Derby Girls team, which is a Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby Association league. “As a Latina I would advise other not fall victim to what other people think you should do. Make your own path and your own success as ultimately, the one person you have to make happy is you,” said Erica Ann Ortiz.

The Photographer
Freelance photographer, Penny de los Santos, was born in the U.S. Army Hospital in Wurzburg, Germany. Being part of an army family, Penny and her family settle in Fort Hood, Texas. She experienced discrimination in Texas and Germany. Yet living in Texas, she was not encouraged to speak Spanish when she was little at her schools.

As she got older, she embraced her culture as well as the Spanish language, and did not care what others thought of her. She went to Texas A&M and chose to major in journalism. By her junior year, she got an internship where she discovered his creative side. After college, she became a profession photographer, where she became an assistant to commercial photographers in Dallas and in New York.

Yet in her profession she encountered disappointments and wanted to become a writer for the National Geographic, she discovered that she had to go to graduate school, and applied to several schools and was rejected due to low GRE scores. She was offered to attend one semester in Ohio University, where she later accomplished so many things and won several awards which later allowed her to finish school in Ohio.

She won an internship for the National Geographic and later developed the Tejano Project, which documents all aspects of the Texas borderlands. Her works have been portrayed in the National Geographic and also works for Saveur, Martha Stewart, Sports Illustrated, Newsweek, Time and others. As she continues her profession, she makes sure that her works always portray a story. “Every Latina should know that in every situation that there is, there is always something to learn,” said Penny de los Santos. Santos will be developing her book on the Tejano Project in the future.

The Author
It can be believed that in every Hispanic/Latina, there is a fighter inside always wanting to make something of themselves. Author Laura Contreras-Rowe portrays in her biographical several Hispanic/Latina women that have made an impact among society and Hispanic culture. These women have been in the professional spotlight from artist to educator. Whatever the profession may be Hispanic women have been able to stand next to famous icons and be recognized as role models.

By Claudia N. Oliva

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