Teens share advice on school, beauty, tech, and more.

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COLLEGE: ¡Si se puede! College is for you! Reach your dreams by continuing your education. Latinitas are making their mark in the academic world and showing off their smarts in college. Tell us about your future plans for college. Why do you think college is important? How are you making your college dreams a reality? What are your tips to navigating the path to college?

SCHOOL Similar to college section, but a focus on elementary, middle school, and high school.


BEAUTY Looking for beauty tips from the expert? There is so much beauty advice and so little time! Sometimes we overlook the best advice, and it comes straight from our mamás and abuelitas! Interview the women in your family to find out what beauty secrets have been passed down from previous generations of mujeres bellas.


BODY & SOUL How do you take care of yourself? From dancing salsa to capoeria, Latinitas are getting active and staying healthy. Smart chicas are treating themselves like princesas and making healthy choices. Taking simple steps like giving yourself time to destress, eating your veggies and frutas and exercising can make your feel better inside and out. Write about the steps you take to stay active, eat healthy, destress or support your body & soul.


FASHION Put the Y-O-U back in YOUnique. Just wearing something to fit in is so out of style. How boring would it be if we all looked the same? You can express yourself not only through your words, but through what you wear with FASHION! Having a unique style is what makes you stand out and special. Describe your own unique sense of style.


TECH GIRL Are you a gadget girl? What kind of technology do you get to use on a daily basis? Cell phones? Texting? A lap top? Do you play video games or use certain software like Microsoft Office in creative ways? Technology reviewers get a chance to test out the 2.0 version of everything. What’s your favorite gadget, game or use of computer programs – describe why you love this form of technology and what it does.

Want to contribute to Latinitas Magazine for the Fall 2017 issue? Contact Jasmine at editor@latinitasmagazine.org. 

Read one of our articles below:

Girl Talk: Latinx and Education by Yunuen A. 

business chicaAccording to the Pew Research Center, the Latinx community is the largest minority group in the country, making up about 17% of the United State’s population. However, while many Latinx students go on to pursue higher education beyond high school, many end up dropping out due to economic strains and the pressure to provide for their families rather than themselves.

Then, there are those of us whom are perhaps lucky to not be considered a sole provider for our household. Growing up in the U.S. and watching my mom struggle to make ends meet without a college education, cleaning toilets and breaking her back for hours on end in heavy labor has made me realize how important education is.

I’m not saying that other Latinx students watching their parents struggle don’t realize it either, but I guess I am privileged. As I stated before, I do not face the pressure to be the sole provider within my household — I, unlike thousands, millions, of other Latinx students, am given the opportunity to pursue higher education.

Without a college degree in the U.S., we are basically nothing – people see us as inferior and brush us off as unintelligent because we don’t speak their language or broken parts of it.

Education is important to me because I am an undocumented student and I don’t have many opportunities for financial stability without it. Undocumented students like me cannot afford to mess up anything – we have to know exactly what we want to do with our life very early on in order to plan accordingly or else the financial cost of staying an extra year in college can burden us for the rest of our lives.

Education should be important to the Latino community because people see us as crime rate and dropout statistics. We are just a number to people and they can’t see the struggle – the blood, the sweat and tears our parents go through in order to give us a better life, an education. Education should be important to the Latino community so that we can give back to everyone that helped us achieve our dreams of getting a college degree to make something of ourselves – our parents who spend hours and days on end without breaks working in harsh conditions to bring bread to the table, our teachers who go above and beyond their duty in order to encourage us to never give up even when we’re feeling at our lowest, and our friends who are always there to support us.

Education should be important to the Latino community because we deserve a future, we deserve better because we are not just some crime rate, some “stupid illegals” or another high school dropout. We are so much more than that and we need an education to prove it not only to everyone who is against us but to ourselves and to give back to everyone who once gave to us first.

Want to contribute to Latinitas Magazine for the Fall 2017 issue? Contact Jasmine at editor@latinitasmagazine.org. 

Fun Stuff

Our awesome chicas review art, books, movies and more.

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ART Is there a certain medium of art you love such as drawing, painting, sculpture or photography? Is there an artist you identify with or love their work and want to share your feedback why? Art is subjective, it can be public, it’s traditionally hung on the wall, but could be in the form of fine cuisine, poetry or song. We are interested in what you think is art is or what kind of art you like to do.

BOOK REVIEW Whether it’s falling in love with a vampire romance or imagining life as a wizard, books transport us to new worlds with exciting adventures. Reading is a great way to escape and open your mind to the unimaginable. Who is your favorite author? Do you like romance novels, adventure stories, non-fiction or thrillers? Tell us about your favorite book.

MUSIC From hip hop to salsa and rock to cumbias, Latinitas are making sound waves in the music scene. Who is your favorite rockera or hip hop chica? Tell us about your favorite band or write about your favorite concert.

QUIZZES Who says writing can only be editorial? We accept quizzes ranging from how much you know about Latina America to what career is best for you. Quizzes are a hot comoddoity now, with sites like Buzzfeed promoting a ton of quizzes, where are the female or Latina teen centered quizzes? Show off your creativity and submit a quiz for others to take.

TV & MOVIE REVIEWS Imagine watching movies and tv for a living. That is exactly what media critics do. Gather your gal pals and host your own mini-movie marathon or check out a new series on TV. Look for entertainment that feature Latina actresses or have a Latina character as one of the leading roles. Write a movie review about it. What was the movie/show about? Who are the celebrities featured in the movie/show? Who were the major characters? What did you like about it? What didn’t you like? Would you recommend it? If so, why? Or why not?

SPORTS Latinitas wants to write about sports girls and teens are playing, watching and supporting. Is there an athlete or sports legend you admire. We also like stories explaining the “how-tos” of certain sports and the history or Latino and other sports.

Check out one of our articles below!

Good Representation—shows every Latina should watch by Eliani L. 

When I was growing up, the only Latinxs that I knew who transcended the cultural barrier between Latin and American media were Enrique Iglesias, America Ferrera, and Jennifer Lopez. When I was growing up, I didn’t know Christina Aguilera was half Ecuadorian, and people called me Ugly Betty because I had braces and was Latina. Today, you have J Balvin making the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States and Romeo Santos making songs with Nicki Minaj and Drake. You have primetime TV shows centering around the lives of a matriarchal Latina family and Kimmy Gibbler’s daughter is Argentinean. You have Guillermo Del Toro grossing hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office when Pan’s Labyrinth only grossed $83 million worldwide in 2006. While stereotypes are still rampant throughout modern American media, it’s definitely a great time to consume media as a Latinx. That said, here’s a list of shows with great representation of Hispanics/Latinxs that everyone should binge watch right now.


rs_1024x729-160920171249-1024-gloria-estefanJane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin is the American adaptation of the Venezuelan telenovela Juana la Virgen. It follows Jane Villanueva, a young college student living in Miami and aspiring to be an acclaimed romance author. Jane lives with her mom Xiomara and her abuela Alba, and the plot revolves around her getting pregnant, despite never having had sex. Jane the Virgin is unique and refreshing for a lot of reasons. Foremost, the main character is a Latina whose sexuality isn’t a major plot point. Jane is a virgin, she dresses modestly, and is very goal oriented with a strong emphasis on family, school, and work. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with being promiscuous, in a society where we are bombarded by the image of a sex-pot Latina, Gina Rodriguez’s portrayal of Jane is refreshing. Next, the show highlights on a very important facet of Hispanic/Latinx culture: a multigenerational matriarchy. It’s very common in our culture to grow up with your abuela as almost a second mom, and for mom to be the head of the household, more so when up to 43% of Hispanic women are single mothers, according to 2013 census data. This quirky and offbeat romantic dramedy also highlights telenovela culture, a huge aspect of Latinx culture. Growing up in a Hispanic/Latinx household, I’m sure you can’t even count the amount of times your mom or grandma rushed to plop in front of the TV to watch their novelas, and then immediately after called their friends to gossip about what just went down. In addition to being a retelling of a Venezuelan telenovela, Jane the Virgin also incorporates aspects and tropes of novela story telling into its own story crafting, and does a great job at educating viewers who had maybe never heard of novelas.

1466451898-orange-is-the-new-black-cast-1Orange is the New Black
Jenji Kohan is the acclaimed creator of the Showtime favorite Weeds, so when I heard she also created Orange is the New Black (OITNB), I was there. Though it was Kohan’s hilarious and masterful writing that drew me in, it was the amazing cast that kept me. With actresses like Dascha Polanco, Selenis Leyva, and Diana Guerrero filling its IMDB page, OITNB has given us so many iconic Latinas to look up to. Though all of the women on the show are in prison, one of the hallmarks of the show is its ability to humanize its characters and portray them as well rounded individuals with vivid backgrounds—even series villains like Pensatucky or Gloria Mendoza. One of the most compelling aspects of the story told on OITNB is that there are always two, sometimes three or more sides to the tale. Yes, all of these women committed crimes—sometimes heinous ones—to land themselves in jail, they’re all women nonetheless. Moreover, the Netflix show is based on a true story from Piper Kerman’s eponymous book about her year in a women’s correctional facility. OITNB peels back the curtain on what it’s like to be an incarcerated woman, and it does it in such a colorful—both in race and tone—and candid way.


629932948-1One Day at a Time
Before Valerie Bertinelli was the Nutrisystem spokeswoman that I was introduced to, she was one of the top billed cast members for the iconic 70s and 80s sitcom, One Day at a Time. Debuting in 2017, Netflix reimagined the sitcom—this time with a Cuban family. The reboot of One Day at a Time follows Penelope Alvarez, a recently divorced war veteran who lives with her mom (played by the living legend Rita Moreno) and her two children. Like Jane the Virgin, One Day at a Time explores the multigenerational matriarchy that is so common in Hispanic/Latinx families, but it also does so much more. It explores femininity as a young Latina woman in the form of Penelope’s daughter’s quinceñera, and pressure from abuela to be more “girly.” It very tastefully grapples with the topic of undocumented status and deportation. What’s more is that the show transcends issues that just affect Hispanics/Latinxs—it’s the true definition of intersectional entertainment. In its lighthearted and joking tone, it talks about the gender gap and racism, it tackles the stigma of mental illness in communities of color, it even touches on topics like war and the treatment of veterans. One Day at a Time is truly one of the freshest and most compelling sitcoms I’ve come across in a long time, and it does it all while making you laugh, too.




3% is an independent science fiction, dystopian thriller series from Brazil, making it Netflix’s first original Brazilian production and the second to be produced in Latin America. In 3%, people live in overall squalor, but are given a chance to traverse to the “better side;” that side being a life of progress and affluence in a mysterious location referred to only as the Offshore. The one caveat is that only 3% of the population will ever get the chance to make it to the Offshore, and thus the apt title. This series is sort of like a Brazilian Hunger Games, but way grittier, way cooler, and with a way more diverse cast. As Brazil is one of the most racially diverse countries in the world, it would be an utter shame if 3% didn’t have a hugely multiethnic cast. Alas, the casting didn’t let us down as it boasts a plethora of Afro-Latinos, light skinned Latinos, and everything in between. If you ever hear the words “all Latinos look the same,” refer whoever said it to this show. Diversity aside, the show is really good. After watching one episode, my friends and I found ourselves addicted and thoroughly attached to the characters on screen. It was so interesting to see how race and ethnicity are treated in a multicultural country that isn’t the United States. In addition to racial representation, there was amazing gender representation—I’m talking girl power to the max with strong, well rounded female characters interested in way more than romance. If you’re interested in action, mystery, and some great representation, look no further than 3%.

Want to write for Latinitas? Contact Jasmine at editor@latinitasmagazine.org.

Latina Beat

Our chicas share what it means to be a Latina and so much more.

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Want to write for Latinitas Magazine? Contact Jasmine at editor@latinitasmagazine.org.


QUINCE It’s your day! The quinceañera has been a tradition for many generations, but today’s quinces are not your mother’s traditional quinceañeras. Today, Latinitas push the limits of this coming of age celebration with new and exciting trends. With elaborate dresses and themes, this day is as diverse as the girls who put them on. What’s your story? Does your quince stay true to traditional customs? Are you adding new twists to this tradition? Tell us about your special day.


CULTURE Looking for writing, poetry and essays that describe or reflect cultural history, traditions, holidays and experiences. Submit stories on how you express your culture and what you know about the origin of your family. First person stories of how you define your culture are welcome!


MI BARRIO Where we live and how we see it tells so much about ourselves. Mi Barrio invites writers to submit profiles of the neighborhoods, towns, cities, states and even countries of origin. Include the name of the place, Tell us what you like to do for fun there, what makes your hometown special, what is the weather like, are there any special landmarks there? What is the history of your hometown. What type of hometown do you live in? (urban, rural) Why do you like it? What can visitors do in your hometown?


FAMILIA As Latinitas, we have a diverse background. Some of our families have been here for generations and we can trace back our roots to some of the earliest Spanish settlers. Others of us can remember our journey crossing over to a new country. Ask your parents, Tias and abuelos to get a better idea of how your family came to the U.S.A. Write an essay describing your family’s story of coming to America.


PASSPORT Travel writers, here is your forum. Describe a trip you have gone on. For stories outside the U.S. tell us the following: an interesting fact (geography, animals), famous figure and entertainer that lives there, who is the current president of that country, what is the capital, languages spoken, currency used, what continent is it on. Also tell us three things that you were able to do at this travel destination that you couldn’t do in your hometown. What foods would you suggest that are native to this place? What new lingo did you learn at your travel destination? Describe a favorite memory of the trip. Finish this statement: If you visit this travel destination, you absolutely have to…What unique customs did you learn while visiting? Lastly answer, when travelling to this place, don’t forget to pack your….


MUNDO NEWS Share your feedback or connection to a major news story? Were you hit with an earthquake? Are you fascinated with Central American politics? Do you have something to say about a national issue. Send us your research, thoughts and in some way, connect it to being Latina.


Read one of our articles below!

From El Paso to Califas: Pachuco Subculture  by Veronica Martinez

The iconic chuca and chuco look can still be seen today, and this iconic trend is more than a fashion statement. There’s a rich history, like the Zoot Suit riots, that is tied to the pachuco and pachuca subcultures. A chuco or pachuco is a subculture that started in Juarez, Mexico and El Paso, TX– neighboring border cities. The subculture started in El Paso in the 1930’s and later on moved up to California, especially in Los Angeles. Along with other cultural trends, the pachucos led to creating a slang of Mexican spanish, caló, and helped pave the way for the Chicano Movement.


Photo Credit: https://www.kcet.org/departures-columns/seventy-years-later-the-zoot-suit-riots-and-the-complexity-of-youth-culture

Pachucos were often seen in zoot suits, these were very oversized pants and coats, and were often called zooters. The clothes were inspired by the 1920’s Chicago gangsters. Chucos were often associated with gangs, although most of them were not related to any illicit activities. The clothes were more about the trend and for dancing. It would have been very hard to dance to the music emerging from swing and bebop of the 1940’s in tight pants.

When the pachuco trend started, the trend also led to questioning one’s identity. Being bicultural has always been difficult for Mexican-Americans. Si no eres de aqui ni eres de ella, so how do you prove your American pride? Chicano boys signed up for the army during WWII as much as the Anglo boys did.According to Senator Robert Mendez, more than 9,000 Latinos died during World War II. However, statistics are problematic because, unlike African Americans that served in segregated units, Latinos were counted with the white males that served.

Now, about the chucas. These girls were tough, ok? In the way that they were cool, strong and non-traditional girls. Since girls were expected to stay at home, chucas defied society’s standards and would often go out and spend time with their Mexican-American boyfriends and other chucas and chucos. Women were constantly told by their mothers that they should stay at home, out of trouble, and out of those short skirts.

Chucas broke a lot of the social rules during this era. Women, at least a respectable woman, was expected to be at home, but pachucas often appeared in public with their boyfriends and wore loose pants like their male counterparts. Yeah, stay home flipping tortillas? No, thanks.

The history of chucos and chucas are an important part of our Mexican-American culture. The next time you see the word “zoot suit,” know that it’s not just a piece of clothing. It is a way of life that helped pave the way for Mexican-Americans in the U.S.

Your View

Our writers use their creativity to express DIY, OMG moments, and poetry. We also occasionally publish YOUR VIEW on issues affecting our community.

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DIY Are you a crafter? Knitter? Amateur carpenter. Send Latinitas a how-to of your favorite craft project, scrap-booking idea, wood work, textile making – or whatever you do to relax in your free time. Please be sure to write detailed instructions and provide a list of materials needed to do your special craft.

OMG MOMENTS We all have them. Everyone can recall a few blush-worthy moments that make us go OMG and want to disappear. Have a good laugh and share one of your most embarrassing moments.

POETRY Latinitas welcomes your quatrains, sonnets, avant garde writing. Send poetry about you, your dreams, your hopes, your struggles and be published today.


Chicas share their thoughts on Latina stereotypes.

“In the media, Latinas are usually portrayed as three silly and flat characters: the chola, the maid, and the home wrecker. The chola portrays the typical thin eyebrowed, thug girl that goes around low income neighborhoods beating everyone up. With this stereotype the ‘chola’ aesthetic is slandered and ridiculed. The maid represents the cleaning lady who takes care of the home and raises the kids in almost every TV show. Finally, the home wrecker, represents an over-sexualized Latina woman who is what every married woman worries will take her husband out from under her. Usually she is nothing more than a wicked gold digging mistress that steals a marriage’s happiness.

However, we as Latinas should not let these stereotypes define us. I am proud of the chola community’s aesthetic and how they are able to form a new style of makeup that took the 1990s Latina community by storm. I am proud of our fellow women working as maids, trying to make a living in order to raise their children right and give them a better life. I am proud of all Latina women that are judged based on their body. I want ALL LATINAS to know that their body does not define them and they are more than just a set of hips for someone to look at.” – Paola, 18


That Mexicans are dirty, that they never finish anything they start, they’re always late….all these silly stereotypes, are just that. Stereotypes.

Those ideas we tend to form about certain people or groups of people without taking the chance to really get to know them.

 Some of the most hardworking people I know are in fact Mexican or of Mexican descent — starting with my parents, who have worked their whole lives just to give my brothers and I a comfortable life. And I am sure many other parents are just the same. To me these stereotypes are so silly, they are not true and do not describe the people around me — my family, friends, those who share my culture. At times the stereotypes upset me and make me mad.

But how many times do we fall into stereotypes of other cultures different from ours?

It’s not just about fighting the stereotypes about our culture that bother us, but also trying not to make any about others.

Stereotypes are silly!! Doesn’t matter who they are about!” – Itzel Barraza, 24

Get Real

These days most teens have a lot on their plate. Similar to advice pieces, dealing section is a chance to help other teens by providing tips on “dealing” with school, dating, family and social stress. How do you cope with challenges at school, home and with friends?

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ADVICE/DATING/DEALING Dichos are a popular Latino tradition. These Spanish sayings have been passed down for generations and reveal wisdom on overcoming life’s challenges and succeeding. Tell us about the best advice you’ve gotten from your family, a friend or your own inspirational thoughts. Due to the popularity of this section, we only accept a very limited amount of articles from writers.

HOT TOPICS What is the most important issue to you right now? In your school? Amongst your friends and in your community? Why is it such a hot topic and how do you feel about it? Describe the impact the issue has on your life and your community.

TAKE ACTION Latinitas are getting involved and taking charge. Young Latinas are paving the way as community leaders, activists and volunteers.  A wave of young talented Latinas are ready to become the future leaders of America.  Tell us about how you are taking a stand and taking charge. Do you volunteer? How are you making a difference?

 Have you overcome a challenge or difficult situation? Do you have a back story you are dying to share with your peers. Have you faced serious issues such as a long-term sickness. We all have issues, and we all struggle sometimes. This section is focused on first person accounts.  Write an article having to deal with difficult challenges such as dealing with depression or a parent’s divorce to the everyday stressors of being a teen.

Read one of our articles below!

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint by Taylor Figueroa

There aren’t too many Bindi Irwins out there, and what I mean by that is, unfortunately, not many girls have the privilege of being raised in a zoo. Animal lovers in big cities do exist, but often feel deprived and helpless. How can a city girl help wild animals if there aren’t any in the city to protect? We may have adorable puppies and kittens, but few of us get to nurture Nile crocodiles the way Bindi does.

One important thing to recognize is that cities actually impact wildlife even more so than any zoo.

Yes, zoos might have breeding and rehabilitation programs that have been known to save entire species, but cities are often the SOURCE of extinction itself. What better way to combat extinction than to fix the system that’s causing it? A preemptive attack!

According to Jane Goodall, the woman who revolutionized the human view of primates, “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

As of now, America’s general choice to use fossil fuels to power vehicles and technology (which most of us “rely” on), and to consume large amounts of fish, beef, and PLASTIC (hopefully, in this case, simply by using), creates a carbon footprint ⅓ the size of the Earth! This means that ⅓ of the Earth’s surface area would be needed to produce the amount of resources we use within a given period.

If I just made you feel insignificant by shoving you into a statistic the size of the U.S.A., your mindset needs to change. Instead of insignificant, you should feel RAGE! You should think, “NO! I refuse to cause so much environmental damage!” If every person though that, the contributions would add up. When you decide to reduce your carbon footprint, you inspire others to do the same.

How can you reduce your carbon footprint?
Be mindful of the nature around you.
You may see ugly houses and concrete, but between every bricks’ crack, there is a world of insects, who help nourish our soil, eventually nourishing our plants. Plants are beautiful creatures! They not only feed the world, but provide materials, medicines, and most of all- oxygen. We breathe out toxic carbon, but plants breathe in carbon, and release what we need.

Gardening is a great way to reduce, or at least counter, your carbon footprint.
Make sure, however, that the plants you grow are native to your area. My Grandma Dora often plants aloe vera, for example, because they “don’t require much water”- a major plus when you live in the Chihuahuan Desert.

Conserving water is important.
When you take a shower, time yourself, or buy a showerhead that reduces water output. Less than 1% of our Earth’s water is usable fresh water for humans and animals to share. We need not destroy it!

By destroying it, I not only mean “don’t use it at such a fast rate,” but also “don’t contaminate it.” This is where consumerism comes into play, whether by eating or buying. When we eat beef, we threaten water in two ways. One, cattle are often, to their risk of health, fed hundreds of pounds of corn each. Corn is considered a “thirsty” crop meaning that it takes a large amount of water to grow crop, per pound. By eating beef instead of crop material itself, we use 20 times more water. The other way eating beef causes water harm, is that cattle can erode land as they walk, dropping dirt (and possibly feces) into nearby rivers.

Plastic contaminates water because it takes hundreds of years to break down. Littering has led to some plastic directly falling into water, altering its pH with the chemicals it’s made of. Landfills indirectly affect water as the chemicals can seep into the ground as the plastic degrade, causing groundwater to be acidic.

If you’re wondering what any of this has to do with animals, let’s talk fish. Yes, over consumption of fish has significantly affected fish population, but so has water contamination and climate change.

Climate change is caused by increased levels of CO2, usually due to fossil fuel burning, which destroys the ozone. The ozone protects the Earth from the sun’s radiation- a super hot thing!Electricity and gasoline usually rely on fossil fuels. If you want to use less coal, you should consider reducing your use of technology or vehicle transport.

Climate change affects animals for many reasons, including relying on particular weather patterns to initiate rituals like migration and breeding (climate signals time of year for most animals), and requiring certain vegetation for food, which requires themselves a specific amount of sunlight for photosynthesis.

 Gardening, conserving water, reducing beef, fish and plastic consumption, as well as limiting technology and vehicle usage, are ways to be the Bindi Irwin of the city. Our hope is always for the next generation to improve their mindset towards environmentalism. Keep that value alive, and one day, city girls and animals can live in harmony!


We spotlight leading Latinas from the past and present.

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Want to highlight someone in your community? Contact Jasmine at editor@latinitasmagazine.org


BIG SIS/ LEADING LATINAS Men·tor (noun). According to dictionary.com, a mentor is a wise or trusted adviser, teacher or guide. Think about your own Latina mentor. Who do you look up to? Who do you admire? Who do you turn to for advice or guidance? Write a essay about a person who is your mentor. Why do you look up to this person? Share a story about how this person has made an impact on you. What do you admire about them?

CAREERS Is there a woman you know doing a job you are interested in? Interview her for Latinitas magazine. Ask her to describe her job and why she chose what she does to do. Ask her about the training she needed to get to be where she is at. Find out what kind of salaries someone can make in her position and the benefits and challenges of her job.

COOL CLUBS What clubs, community service projects or volunteer experiences are you involved with. Tell us about your “cool club” what their mission is, what you have to do to contribute and what you enjoy about it. Let other girls know how they may be able to get involved with something like it.

Women’s History Month: Leading Latinas by Grecia S.

As part of Women’s History Month, we are spotlighting influential Latinas whom have made a difference in the community and/or their field.

Alicia Alonso Alicia_Alonso_1955
Founder of what is now called the National Ballet of Cuba, this Cuban girl inspired many ballerinas to follow their dreams. She received the Bellas Artes Merit from Spain Monarchy, gold medal at Circulo de Bellas Artes in Spain, and the Cuban title of Heroina Nacional deal Trabajo. She has become one of the most outstanding athletes throughout Cuban history. Don’t be shy if you know how to dance or paint chica, Alicia Alonso wasn’t afraid to show the people who she was. Who knows, you might inspire your very own artistic movement.

Alicia Dickenson Montemayor
Working with men during  the 1930’s was very difficult for women, and even more difficult if you were a Latina. Well, this outstanding Latina paved the way in so many areas. She became the first woman associate editor of LULAC News, but also the first elected woman for national office and vice president of the League of United Latin American Citizens. She did a lot for middle class Latin American people and promoted civil rights for women and Latinas.

Claribel Alegria
Alegria moved to the United States in 1943; this Nicaraguan poet has won our hearts and minds with her poem I survived (Sobrevivo). The poem led her to win the Cuban-sponsored Casa de las Americas award in 1978. She has became one of the most influential political activists in Nicaragua. Her passion and political activism led to the creation of a social movement in Nicaragua called La Generacion Comprometida.

Stay tuned for future installments to be published throughout Women’s History Month! 

How My Tía Became My College Goals

Lindsy Castillo

Lindsy Castillo

Written by Lindsy Castillo

As a kid, everybody had somebody to look up to as their role model, such as Superman or a Disney princess. Even though there was a time that I had wanted to be Cinderella, I later realized that somebody even better and closer to me would be my role model: my aunt, Jazmin.

When my aunt graduated high school, she had her mind set on going to a good college and pursuing her dreams of majoring in the psychology field. I recall her always calling to check up on the family. I would often talk to her, despite the fact that I was in preschool. There was a time that my family and I went to go visit her, and I thought that it was really cool that she lived with friends out of town while she went to school. I remember seeing how much fun she had and I suddenly became curious about attending college.

As things came up, she ended up leaving before she could finish school, so she decided to come back home and get a job. I was happy when she came back home. Even though once in a while I would obtain an attitude with her or get mad at simple things, such as the color she would fill in the butterfly on my coloring book, I would mostly have a good time with her.

After working with children, she decided that she would attend and finish school once again at the University of Texas at El Paso for a degree in education. Once my 5th grade year had started, she also began attending school. I was excited for her because I had always overheard her discussing with my mom and grandmother about going back and finishing college. Once she began to attend college again, she got very busy with homework and classes, which I secretly didn’t like. I knew that she was doing this because she had a passion for working with children and wanted to overcome statistics for young Latinas. I noticed that she was really committed and into what she was learning. She went above and beyond to make sure that none of the grades in her class were average or mediocre.

All the hard work has paid off. She is now a teacher at a middle school in El Paso, Texas. She is a teacher and is a first generation graduate from my family, which makes me really proud for her. It is obvious that she loves what she does. She’s always talking about how proud she is of her students, and how much progress is being made. There’s never a moment that she doesn’t think of her class. She could see the smallest toy, and say, “Oh that’s a character from one of my student’s favorite show.” I think that it’s amazing that she takes the time to get to know every one of her students, outside of schoolwork that is shown.

I think what inspires me the most about her is that she has never allowed sexism or racism to become an obstacle that she’d face during her college years. She believes that anybody that tries, believes in themselves, and has the right mindset can accomplish their dreams and goals. Whenever I think about giving up, I think of how she got things done and stayed committed to focusing on her career. Just the fact that I know that she tried her hardest and pushed herself past her limit makes me want to finish school and try my hardest at the things that I do. I want to go to college because of her, and because I think that it’s my responsibility as a teenage girl with a Mexican background to show people who doubt certain races or sexes that it can be done.

Preparing for College

Preparing for college requires more than motivation to go to school. It is important to take control of being able to have a good balance in everything. I like to go and talk to my teachers for each subject and see if I have any missing assignments or low grades that I can make up. If I have questions for my teachers, I make sure that I ask before the assignment or test is due. Taking control shows initiative on one’s own part. Not only does it help, but it feels amazing to know that everything is done and out of the way.

Another thing that I think will be crucial is not losing sight of what goals and dreams are being set. I’ve heard of a few people that just give up on college and end up regretting it later. I believe that if something is in the process of being done, it might as well be finished. A few distractions probably won’t be worth quitting something that is a passion.

Growing Up Latina

written by Stephanie Puente

I was born in the United States, but my parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents were born in different parts of Mexico. My dad and grandma only speak Spanish, which made it very difficult for me to communicate with them because I was accustomed to the English language. As I got older, I took Spanish classes and was becoming fluent in the language. I was very afraid to speak Spanish because we live in El Paso where the majority of people speak Spanish and judge you for not knowing Spanish well. I think this mentality made me question my identity as a Latina because my appearance does not look Latina, so many people always asked me if I spoke Spanish. I began to doubt my identity because of the lack of fluency in the language, but it was through my culture that I was able to gain confidence in who I am.

In my culture, food, traditions, and family plays a huge impact in who we are. For example, during Christmas, my family always gets together to help make tamales. It is part of our tradition and we are able to spend more time together. It was through my family’s customs that I gained more confidence in who I am and began to take pride in my identity. I was able to gain more confidence in speaking Spanish to my family and others, without the fear of being judged. My culture has allowed me to take pride in who I am and not question what others have to say to me about my own identity.

Growing up as a Latina, my biggest fear was not being accepted. However, as I got older, I began to understand that I am me. I am a unique individual and no one can take my identity away from me other than myself.  It is important to believe in who you are and not let others judge how you perceive your own identity. Therefore, I am glad my culture redirected me to believe in my Latina identity when others questioned my role as a Latina.

Spotlight: Diane Guerrero’s “In the Country We Love”

Latinitas and Diane

Latinitas and Diane

Written by Ari Gonzalez

Diane Guerrero is best known for her work on the hit TV shows Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin, however, Diane is also a huge activist for immigration reform and the author of the book In the Country We Love. She is the daughter of two Colombian immigrants who were deported when she was only 14 years old, leaving her completely alone in the United States. In her book In the Country We Love, Diane discusses the hardships her parents had to face during their time in America, and how she was able to get to where she is today without her parents and older brother. We had the pleasure to speak to Diane at the Texas Book Festival in Austin, Texas. about her book, as well as what it is like being a Latina in the entertainment industry.

Who did you turn to when you were afraid after your family was deported?
“I turned to my friends, I had family friends and I called them and they took me in.”

What advice do you have that may be in the same situation you were in?
“They need to inform themselves, it’s a matter of educating yourself, your family, and your community. I would say being involved as much as you can, you are a political being and you have a responsibility, and knowledge is power and once you have that under your belt then you can find different avenues where you can defend yourself.”

You have such great comedic timing, how are you able to stay so positive and be so funny after everything that you went through?
It’s the way I deal with things. If I don’t laugh, I cry, so I do my best to continue laughing. I also love laughing at my own jokes. It is something that I definitely got from my dad, he would always be so funny and laugh at his own jokes and I think that is where I get it from.”

What is it like being a Latina in the film industry?
“It is certainly difficult but not impossible as you can see. I think the first step is believing that we can, and making ourselves heard. I think it is so important that we represent ourselves and realize that we are a part of this narrative, and that we are a part of this country and that is our country too. I think it is getting better, and I am certainly not going to give up and I hope others join me in this. I think all we have to do is just show up.”

In The Country We Love tells the moving, inspirational story of a young Latina who beat the odds and accomplished her dreams. Diane Guerrero’s bravery to share her story inspires me and Latinas everywhere to try and make a difference. If you haven’t had the chance go read In The Country We Love and inform yourself on how you can help make a difference and bring more awareness to immigration reform.

Girl Talk: Teen Pregnancy

Gabby Silva shares her thoughts on teen pregnancy:

Latinas have had the highest rate on teen pregnancies since 1995 over all the major ethnicities in the country. Only 80% of teenagers do not receive any type of sexual education before they encounter their first sexual relationship. Lack of sexual education is problematic for Latinas, especially when 51% of Latinas become pregnant before they turn 20.

One out four teenagers that end up pregnant are in between the ages of 15 and 17 and eight out of ten of the teenage fathers do not stay with the mother. The list of disadvantages of being a teenage mom can be long, but it is important when it comes to having sexual relationships teenagers have the accurate information.

Teenagers do not see how drastically a baby can change their lives, especially with how a baby affects their education. Balancing an education and a child is incredibly difficult. Only 38% of teenage moms earn a high school diploma! Having to manage all the homework/study time while taking care of their baby also means less than 2% graduate with a college degree by the time they turn 30. Think it stops with the mom? NOPE! Their kids will also show low performance in school. In fact, 50% of the kids will fail a grade level.

There are serious and negative consequences for having a baby at such a young age, but it does not mean that every teenage mom is doomed to fail. But  having a baby should be a two people’s agreement, and not an accident where teenagers are going to be forced to support the baby.