Leading Teens: Title IX

20140412_114233At the age of 16, Priya Ramamoorthy, Kavya Ramamoorthy, Maanasa Nathan, and Smrithi Mahadevanare  completed and presented research on Title IX (law which advocates for gender equality in educational programs) at the National History Day  (NHD) competition. Latinitas interviewed these passionate chicas about their research concerning the NHD competition.


What are all your backgrounds – Indian-American? Sri Lankan – would love to share that.
We are first generation Americans with parents from south India. Our parents’ first language is Tamil.

Please, each of you, share your age, favorite volunteer service/community action you like to take, favorite Latino food you like to eat and most important value your parents instilled in you.

Maanasa- I am 16 years old. I don’t really have a preference on community service; I take all the opportunities I get to volunteer and give back to the community. My favorite Latino food is Enchiladas. The most important value my parents instilled in me would be to never forget who you are because the world is always going to be changing, and your personality, morals and values are what are going to define you forever. Basically follow your dreams, but don’t lose who you are in the process.

Smrithi - I am 16 years old. I am head of a non-profit organization called Racquet Readers, where we collect slightly used books from stores and distribute them around the South Austin community. Our goal is to promote literacy by organizing events and setting up libraries in community centers as well as hospitals. My favorite Latino food would have to be bean and cheese Nachos, with sour cream and pico de gallo on top. The most important value my mother has instilled in me is that success does not come easily. You have to work hard for everything, and put 100% of your effort into everything you do; only then can you be successful in life.

Priya - I am 16 years old. I love working with kids of all ages, and through Girl Scouts I volunteer every summer for our Service Unit’s Day Camp -my favorite part is helping out with arts and crafts. My parents have instilled in me the importance of reaching out to others and also the art of communication. I am naturally a shy person, but, through my parents pushing me towards volunteer opportunities that force me out of my bubble, I’ve noticed that I have started to overcome this challenge and be more outgoing. My favorite Latino food is authentic arroz con frijoles.

Kavya - I am 16 years old. Working with others is something that I enjoy. Some of my favorite volunteering experiences have come from working with students and teaching them about programming robots and attending a leadership camp last summer where I was able to work with and meet a variety of groups. My parents taught me to believe and have confidence in myself. When I open myself up to others and carry myself in a confident manner, I find that a world of opportunities open up. My favorite Latino food is churros with hot chocolate.


Explain how the four of you got from presenting on Title IX to Voter Registration?

Our research on Title IX for the National History Day (NHD) competition, led us to recognize the importance of grass root organizations like the American Association of University Women (AAUW) for their great efforts in the 1970s and on-going active role in women’s rights today. When we were attending the NHD competition in Washington D.C., we were invited to visit the AAUW headquarters. During our meeting we learned the current initiative of AAUW was to increase women and minorities access to the ballot box. We also got the opportunity to participate in a Voting awareness promotion at the AAUW office. This got us thinking about the importance of voting, a fundamental right and the most powerful political instrument available to every citizen. The 2013 NHD competition enabled us to research voting rights in depth, and we were surprised that this basic tool was denied to many minorities until recently. And 2012 being an election year, got us thinking that we four would be eligible to vote in the next presidential election. Being women and minority voters, we realized that new barriers to voting could impact us as well. We have wanted, ever since, to get involved in helping minorities and the younger generation become registered voters and active participants in our democratic process,” said Manasa Nathan.


What’s happening today that discourages people of color from voting?

The recent court case, Shelby County v. Holder, struck down important provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Justices ruled that the trigger formula (Section 4), which decides the states that fall under the pre-clearance measure (Section 5), was unconstitutional because it was outdated, in effect nullifying the clause that guarded against new voting barriers. Many states have taken advantage of this verdict and have passed new discriminatory laws that deter minorities ability to vote, like photo Voter ID laws and gerrymandering plans. Texas has just passed a stricter photo Voter ID law and is in the process of passing a new redistricting plan – a plan to redraw the boundaries for voting districts. The Voter ID law, according to Ari Breman from Nation Magazine, could disenfranchise up to 800,000 people due to the requirement of a government issued ID -an added cost for voters. Cutting early voting days has become a recent trend in some states. The long lines caused by this can deter people from voting. The ever evolving barriers to voting that pop up each day highlight how the fight for voting equality is not yet complete, and it is the task of the younger generations to step up now and take an effort in ensuring that everyone can fully exercise their right to vote,” said Smrithi Mahadevan.


In your opinion, is the attack on immigration related to fear of a new diverse voting population?

The attack on immigration stems from various causes, economic concerns of a new immigration group in the workforce, party politics, etc. A fear of a diverse new voting population, in our opinion, is a significant factor in causing this attack. Voting is power. Many see a new immigrant group -based on ethnicity- as a single entity that will vote on certain party lines. For this reason, Texas, being a state with a heavy influx of minorities, is drawing the attention of both the Republicans and the Democrats,” said Priya Ramamoorthy.


What were things about voting rights you learned that shocked you? Good and bad.

One vote is one voice. Access to the ballot box grants you the opportunity to raise your voice and be heard on local, state and national issues that affect your life. Citizen coalition groups continue to provide a national voice on minority issues influencing the outcomes of legislation. We must remain vigilant in protecting this basic right because one vote is one voice and that voice must be heard. However, new challenges to the voting arise every election cycle. We, in turn, should honor the legacy of those who fought to enfranchise minorities, by valuing and exercising the right to vote,” said Kavya Ramamoorthy.


You can read more about these topics, and view their NHD project, at:

http://76705925.nhd.weebly.com/ - Title IX: Empowerment Through education

http://18602803.nhd.weebly.com - The Voting Rights Act of 1965: One Vote, One Voice


Rooming with a Sister

RLP_Latinitas_Activities Photos-27Sharing a room is like being a married. You do not have to share a bed, but everything around you – your TV, your space, your window view – is shared by the person whom you’re living with. It might seem intimidating to share your bedroom, one of the most intimate spaces for someone, with another person, but when it comes to doing this with your sibling however, things are a bit different. Sharing a room allows a relationship to grown both in negative and positive ways. While it might not be the preferable situation for some people, sharing a room is something that will not always stay that way. So learning what to do so is necessary.

For many sisters, sharing a room might be an invasion of privacy. Michelle Peña , a Sophomore at Stephen F. Austin State University, said sharing a room with someone is tough, but worthwhile.

“I shared a room with 2 other people till I was 5 [and] then I shared a room with 1 person,” Peña said.

Peña spoke about how her experience  prepared her for having a roommate in college. She described situations where she would have to wake up at the same time as her older sister and also let her take naps after school. “[You have to] be patient with the other person,” she said.

For some sisters, the living situation might be a bit more difficult.  Like any type of relationship, communication is very important.

If you have never shared a room with another person, and are about to share one with another family member, it might be hard to adjust to this change at first. For Peña, respecting each other’s space is something that is extremely necessary. She advised splitting a bedroom in half could mean the room is divided equally. “It was hard having to share a room with so many people,” she said, “it was always crowded and nothing really felt like it was mine.

Before you start claiming a side of the room, talk and spend some time with your sister. The issue might be a misunderstanding, so talk to her first.Whether you’re the older or younger sister, make an effort to talk to your sister and ask her what’s new. Ask her about her day at night, or talk to her about her plans in the morning. Great communication is important. Even though you are related, sharing a room it does not mean that your relationship will be strong as ever.

Sharing a room is one thing, but actually having a relationship with one another in that room is what really matters. If there is a television present, watch shows that interests both of you, and it can be a way to enforce a day and time in which both of you will spend time together.

This is similar to what Reyna Nevarez, a third year student at the University of Texas at Brownsville and Peer Health educator experienced growing up.  Nevarez, her mother and two sisters moved homes while Nevarez was in high school. “We always had to share a room,” she said.

But something a bit different from Peña’s experience is how Nevarez always tried to help her younger sisters with their homework. “Because of it, we were able to spend more time together,” she said. “It was hard to afford expensive things, so we needed something to do.”

Spending more time together let Nevarez and her sisters find it easier to share a room.

When in doubt with any living situation, reaching out to a parent is the best and safest option in creating a safe and happy environment in a bedroom. It can be tough to express feelings toward one another, so your mom and/or dad can help you and your sister have a safe and fun room-sharing experience.

My Mom, My Hero

We count on our mothers to play many roles in our lives. They are there for us whenever we need them to be our teachers, role models, idols, friends and heroes.  These Latinitas share the special role their mother plays in their life and what makes them special…

My Best Friend by Paulete Espinoza
I grew up with three brothers, no sisters, and my mom and dad. I was basically surrounded by boys all the time, it wasn’t anything different or weird for me, but quite the opposite. I’ve never had good luck finding friends that are girls, on the contrary, they bullied me when I was little. All I have is my mom. She’s my best friend, my teacher, my role model, and my other half. I can talk to her like a best friend, telling her everything about anything. She would encourage me and give me her best advice. We fight like sisters, we go shopping together, and we even have some hand signals that only we both know. We can tell what the other one is thinking with just one look. We have a strong bond with one another that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. She’s a psychotherapist. Every time I want her advice about something, she tries treating me like a patient and. She goes all “freaky Friday” on me and starts saying “And how do you feel about that?” I sometimes have to yell at her because I don’t want therapy, I want a friend. Then she realizes what she’s doing and tells me “Oh my god, no way” and that’s when I know my best friend is back. She’s the sister, and best friend I never had.

My Idol by Patty Ramirez
My name is Patty. I am currently seventeen years old and I am about to graduate from high school. I am the middle child out of three girls and the daughter of divorced parents. My parents have been divorced since 2007, after the divorce my sisters and I continued living with my mom. Considering the fact that this is about my mom I’ll tell you some things about her. My mom’s name is Martha and she’s 46 years old. My mom is the definition of “idol.” I have been extremely blessed to be granted with the strongest, smartest and prettiest mom in the world. I assure you that by me describing my mom doesn’t do any justice. She is the kind of person that is willing to help others when she has the ability to do so. Just before my parent’s divorce they had purchased a brand new house in which they both planned on paying for together with both their incomes. Unfortunately, about one or two years after their purchase they finalized their divorce. It seemed as if no one had faith in my mom keeping our new house with her one paycheck income. After difficult months my mom realized that with the job she had then she wouldn’t be able to keep the house. She then decided to become a truck driver who worked out of town. With my mom out of town this meant that my sisters and I would have to mature extremely fast in order for my mom to be comfortable working up to 2 weeks at a time on the road. Just as it was hard for us to grow up I can imagine how hard it was on my mom to miss her three daughters growing up. I’m grateful to this day that my mom has managed to keep the house everyone thought she would lose. My older sister became a huge mother figure for my younger sister and I by attending our award assemblies to taking us to get school uniforms. Although my mom couldn’t be ,she made it feel as if she was, she would send us good morning messages and she would plan birthday dinners if she knew she wouldn’t be here on our actual birthday. My sisters and I grew up knowing that she was working out of town to support us and give us what we needed. Currently, my mom is a worker in Carlsbad working two jobs transporting water and working up to 24 hours a day. My sisters and I are all attending school working hard to finish so one day my mom won’t need to. In my opinion, my mom is the perfect mom and she deserves the world.

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo

Flag_of_Mexico_(reverse)Cinco de Mayo is probably one of the biggest holiday that most Americans do not understand. Most often confused with Mexico’s Independence Day, which is actually of September 16, Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Battle of Puebla that took place in Mexico City on May 5, 1862 after a French army was sent to recover some war debts. The army was successful in invading the upper part of Mexico until it reached Mexico, where local residents took a stand and rebelled, making the Battle of Puebla a Mexican victory — even when they were outnumbered 2 to 1. While the French still managed to take over Mexico City after this battle, the successful confrontation against the French is what makes it a holiday. It is believed that if the French had won this battle, the outcome of the American Civil War would have also been affected. Therefore, as referred to by many, Cinco de Mayo celebrates the most unlikely victory and has a large American history behind it.

When interviewed by the Associated Press, Jody Aguis Vallejo, a professor at the University of Southern California (USC), referred to the Cinco de Mayo celebration as something “very similar to how Irish Americans celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.”

Brian Salazar, a 9-year-old, did not know what Cinco de Mayo was. “It has something to do with Mexico, but I don’t know.”

Jasmine Belmares, a 10-year-old, also mentioned that she did not know why some people celebrate the fifth of May. “I think we’re having a party at school,” she said.

Considering it was not the first time France had invaded Mexico (i.e. The Pastry War), Cinco de Mayo is not a very big deal in Mexico. Mexicans are more likely to celebrate Mexico’s Independence Day, September 16th, than Cinco de Mayo. If you go to Puebla, things are a bit different. But in the majority in the country you will mostly find people having a feast filled with mole and carne asada, sort of like a large family dinner, similar to what Americans do on Thanksgiving Day, going on in this day.

The biggest Cinco de Mayo celebration however, takes place is Los Angeles, California. On Cinco de Mayo, downtown Los Angeles has the biggest type of block party style celebration it can, filled with food, music, and parades. According to their website, there are over 300,000 attendees every year.

Across the United States, particularly in a town largely populated by Mexican Americans, Cinco de Mayo is a day of celebration and honoring of all things Mexico – its people, its culture, and its successes. However, it is not an official holiday in Mexico or the United States.Different people and different places have different ways of celebrating the day.

If you want to learn more about Cinco de Mayo, here is a video recap: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sxZ2kDwsN8


Leading Latina Poets

April is coming to an end, but it does not mean we can’t celebrate poetry all-year long! We would like to acknowledge these wonderful Latina women that were known for their writings. Be sure to add these talented Latinas to your summer reading list.

Gloria Anzaldúa

Gloria Anzaldúa

1. Gloria E. Anzaldúa (1942-2004)

Born in Rio Grande Valley of south Texas starting at a young age of three she began menstruating, later found a condition in her circulatory system that caused her to stop physically growing at the age of only twelve. Gloria’s mother always had to make her special clothing for the other children not to notice anything different about her body. At the age of fourteen her father passed away in a tragic car accident, even with all of her obstacles and issues she decided to still get a college education. In 1968 she received her Bachelors and began to work as a special education teacher. She began editing works and soon started writing herself, starting with her children’s book Prietita has a Friend. Throughout all her writings she uses a combination of Spanish and English. She wrote a speech called Speaking in Tongues: A Letter to Third World Women Writers to show an equality in gender representation in literature, not focusing on racial or cultural issues. Several institutions now offer awards in memory of Gloria.

Julia-Alvarez2. Julia Álvarez (1950-Present)

Born in New York City, Julia Alvarez only Spanish and enough English in order to distinguish when people were being mean to her at a young age. While learning both languages fluently she had to pay close attention to every word said, which made her more towards becoming a writer. She began teaching Creative Writing starting with younger kids, and scaled up to older children when she was ready to step up with her career. In 1991, she started publishing in small magazines and won a couple of writing prizes which led her to earning a tenure at Middlebury College where she published her first novel, How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents. One of her greatest honors was to serve as a godmother to a Latino student organization called Alianza.

burgos3. Julia de Burgos (1914-1953)

Born in Puerto Rico, and the oldest of 13 children, Julia de Burgos was destined to become a writer. She graduated from the University of Puerto Rico at San Juan, and two years later she obtained her teaching certification and began teaching at Naranjito. She committed to education and social change, shortly after

her marriage with Ruben Rodrigues, and her teaching career ended. During the three years of her marriage she became more involved with her social conscience and began working at a day care center. In 1937, when her marriage ended and was going through a divorce, her first piece of poetry was privately published called Poemas exactos a mi miasma. In 1940 and 1941, her poetry was performed in New York City and was honored by several organizations, including the Asociación de Periodistas y Escritores Puertorriqueños. 


4. Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957)

Born in Vicuña, Chile, raised by her older sister Emelina Molina, her father, a poetry teacher died when she was at a young age. While starting out, life became difficult when it came to education; soon after ending her education in 1900 she became a school teacher for elementary and secondary schools. Mistral began writing poetry after an obsessive romance with one of a railway employees who committed suicide shortly after their encounter. The love poems in memory of the dead, Sonetos de la Muerte (1914) made her famous and known throughout Latin America. She held honorary degrees from the Universities of Florence and Guatemala and was an honorary member of different cultural societies in Chile as well as in the United States, Spain, and Cuba. Gabriela Mistral died January 10 1957, and her complete poetry collection was published in 1958.

ana_prof5. Ana Castillo (1953-Present)

Born in Chicago, went to Santa Rosa Junior College in California. In 1975 she became an instructor in ethnic studies, Castillo kept teaching throughout her life at different Universities and on different subjects that she thought were important to her. She wrote her first poems when she was only nine years old after the death of her grandmother. In high school and in college she was very active in the Chicano movement using her writings to express her political sentiments. Castillo’s first published pieces of verse were, Otro canto, The Invitation and Women Are Not Roses. She was not only a writer for adults, but also for children, she authored the children’s book “My Daughter, My Son, the Eagle, the Dove” she wrote this to instruct the youths for preparing for traditional rites of passage.


6. Nancy Mercado (1959-Present)

Born and raised in Atlantic City, New Jersey, she went from her Bachelors all the way to her Doctoral degree. Mercado began her literary career in 1979, she has gone throughout the U.S, Europe, and Canada as a featured poet and a conference panelist. She was editor of Long Shot productions from 1993-2004 becoming the editor-in-chief. Mercado was also featured in PBS when America remembers 911 and on the Encyclopedia of Hispanic American Literature, she became successful in her writings, her work was published in plenty of magazines all throughout different states. She served for ten years at the Artistic Director of Young Life Theatre Group, she authored and directed seven plays that were both in Spanish and English. Mercado is now the co-founder of El Instituto de Cultura Lola Rodriguez de Tió located in New Jersey.

Semana Santa

While a lot of people seem to know about Easter Sunday and the period of time that comes before it, Lent, there is a special time the week before Easter Sunday that not too many people know about. Holy Week,or Semana Santa as some countries call it, is observed in the United States and in Mexico.

Holy Week Celebrations in Texas: Neocatechumenal Way (The Way)
The Neocatechumenal Way is a Catholic form of faith that began in the early 60’s in Madrid, Spain. There are many parishes across the country. In Texas, one parish is located in San Antonio.

Kimberly Uribe, 18, celebrates Holy Week at her local parish. ”Holy week actually has a meaning for me, because on Holy Thursday I am given the opportunity to ask for forgiveness to those I’ve judged or done bad against,” said Uribe.

Holy Week is a four-day Easter celebration. From Thursday to Sunday, Holy Week is commemorates the life and death of Christ. Here’s how the parish in San Antonio celebrates Holy Week:

Holy Thursday: This is represented as the day of the last supper, where Christ washes the feet of all 12 of his disciples. In observance, each community will meet and listen to readings specifically for this day, and after the readings, will have a “washing of the feet” where any member of the community may take the bowl of water and rag in the center of the room, and wash the feet of those they would like to ask for forgiveness from.

Good Friday: This is celebrated as the day that we are invited to reflect on what our “cross” is. Much like how Christ had his cross of eternal suffering, Catholics are asked to question what their cross is. It is during this reflection that some are invited to share their cross and how the day’s readings might have helped them with it.  Much like Thursday, the communities will meet and have corresponding readings, where they will then give personal reflections. As a conclusion, a cross is put at the center of the room, and each member of the community will kneel in front of the cross, pray for their cross, then when they are finished praying, kiss the cross and sit down until everyone who would like to has gone.

“I see the cross present and how my cross is present as well,” Uribe said.

Holy Saturday (the day before Easter): The day before Easter Sunday is a day of fasting, prayer and mass. The entire day before adults and teens will not eat for the entire day until after Easter vigil when they go out to dinner together.

“My favorite is the Vigil,” Uribe said. “Everyone wears their best clothing and is happy because of the resurrection.”

Holy Week in Mexico

Holy Week is very popular in Mexico and observes the same events, but with additional traditions — some of which are inspired by Spain.

Photo Credit: www.explorandomexico.com.mx

Photo Credit: www.explorandomexico.com.mx

One thing in particular, is the two-week vacation that schools get for the week of and the week preceding Easter. The first “holy day” is Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos) which falls on the Sunday before Easter. This is part of the reason why schools begin “Easter vacation” the week preceding Easter.  Another unique Mexican tradition is that the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico paint themselves white during Holy Week. There are many additional traditions for Semana Santa that aren’t normally done in the U.S.

In Mexico, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday are celebrated differently that from the U.S.

Holy Thursday (Jueves Santo): Similar to the event of washing feet, in Mexico it is not uncommon to see some visit seven churches during Jueves Santo to represent the vigil the apostles held that night.

Good Friday (Viernes Santo): On this day, multiple local passion plays (re-enactment of the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus Christ) are held throughout the streets. The reenactments are also known as the “Via Crucis” or passion plays. Passion plays are viewed in some areas of the United States, but it’s very popular in Mexico. In the city of Ixtapalapa, a passion play of over 4,000 local actors is performed where almost 2 million people come and watch.

Holy Saturday (Sabado de Gloria): On Holy Saturday many statues of Mary can be found wearing black dresses because this is represented as the day that Mary is in mourning. Another tradition performed on this day is the burning of Judas for his betrayal of Jesus. On this day, an figure representing an effigy of Judas (often similar to a popular politician) is burnt.

Easter Sunday (Domingo de Pascua)- There is not a lot of festive-like events on this day as it is typically a day where people attend mass and celebrate with their families.

Whether you are religious or not, how do you celebrate Easter?

Latina Feminists in Chicano Movement

The Chicano we are currently hearing about is Cesar Chávez. It is great to see Chicano’s out in the spotlight in Hollywood with the new movie that just premiered about his legacy. But what about the women? What about the Latinas feminists who took a prominent role in the Chicano movement?

Photo credit: doloreshuerta.org

Photo credit: doloreshuerta.org


Dolores Huerta was actually one of the most prominent Chicana activists who worked alongside Cesar Chavez in the fight for labor reform for farm and field workers. She co-founded the United Fard Workers (UWF) association with Cesar after founding the Community Service Organization (CSO) to help improve the working conditions of these workers. Additionally, she has also been an important figure in the struggle to repeal the Bracero program, the creation of the California Aguricultural Labor Relations Act, and female/Latina rights. She later founded the Dolores Huerta Foundation in 2002.



Gloria Anzaldúa

Gloria Anzaldúa

Another Latina feminist who you might have also heard about is Gloria Anzaldúa. Born in South Texas in 1942, Gloria is largely known for her multiple pieces of writings in the form of poetry, children’s books, and novels. The piece she is probably best known is her 1987 semi-autobiographical novel, “Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza.” This is a book that truly altered the writing world at the time because it introduced the idea of indigenous writing and contributed to the role of feminists and Chicana women in the Chicano movement.




Cherrie Moraga

Cherrie Moraga is also a prominent writer of the 1980s due largely to her being one of the first Chicana writers who also identified as Lesbian at that time. She often collaborated with Gloria Anzaldúa and at the time wrote and co-edited her best known book yet with Anzaldúa, “This Bridge Called My Back.” This is considered by many scholars to be one of the most important books about feminist theory of all time.


Elma Barrera is probably one of the most important Latina feminists who you have never heard of. In response to all the criticism these Chicana leaders were receiving at the time, Elma said, “I have been told that the Chicana’s struggle is not the same as the white woman’s struggle. I’ve been told that the problems are different and that . . . the Chicana’s energies are needed in the barrio and that being a feminist and fighting for our rights as women and as human beings is anti-Chicano and anti-male.” It was because of these experiences that Elma actually assembled the National Chicana Conference (Conferencia de Mujeres por la Raza), the first Chicana feminist conference ever held. In it’s 1971 debut almost 600 women attended the event at Magnilia Park YMCA in Houston, Texas. The event has slowly grown into a prominent conference in Chicana/Chicano studies.

There are many other Latina feminists who played and continue to play an important role in the Chicano movement and its legacy. It is important to actively seek the knowledge brought upon by these women through their works of writing and their activism. Without these women, where would we, Latinas, be today?

5 STEM Summer Programs

Photo Credit: ruthcatchen.wordpress.com

Photo Credit: ruthcatchen.wordpress.com

Do you find an interest in academic subjects such as math, science, engineering, and other technical classes? Summer is just around the corner and there are so many opportunities to enjoy utilizing your skills at fun and engaging summer camps such as these:

G.R.A.D.E. Camp

This camp is being hosted by the Cullen College of Engineering at the University of Houston

and is week-long daytime program is tailored towards females who are entering the 8th-12th grade. It introduces girls to engineering by providing them with hands-on activities such as building robots. It is a good way to experience something new and to be exposed to a little bit of what engineers do in their jobs. By the end of the camp, you will even have created your own robot that can make its way through a maze! The campy begins June 9th. The application is on a first come first serve basis so apply now at www.egr.uh.edu!

STEP Forward Camp

This camp is supported by the Program for Mastery in Engineering Studies at the University of Houston and is a one-week camp for students entering the 12th grade. This camp requires that the participants stay overnight on campus in a dormitory at the university. The camp follows a curriculum which includes projects, field trips, and panel discussions.The application is currently open and is based on essays, transcripts, and other criteria. Apply here!

Engineering and Computer Science Summer Camps 2014

These camps are located at the University of Texas at Arlington and are both fun and educational. In these week-long camps, students are exposed to engineering and its different fields such as aerospace, biomedical, and civil.The camps involve taking field trips so that the student are exposed to the different working environments. Students are also given the opportunity to become involved in projects and other hands-on activities. Applications are due as early as April 1 so apply here!

STEM Quest Summer Camp II

This camp is for 9th and 10th grade students and is hosted by the University of Texas Medical Branch. The camp involves activities that expand a student’s knowledge and experience in biotechnology, bioengineering, nanotechnology, and health sciences. Such activities may include bacterial transformation and PCR (polymerase chain reaction)/Gel electrophoresis/DNA fingerprinting. These activities will be problem-based and investigative which also involves gaining increased knowledge in laboratory skills. The application deadline is April 7!

Residential Junior Summer Math Camp

This program at Texas State University is for 6th-8th grade students but the student must be at least 12 years of age. This camp is designed to help students who already show a great interest in math to become creative and critical thinkers. They encourage students to pursue goals that are math inclined. Since the number of spots available are limited for this camp, do not wait to apply! Deadline is April 15.

Go ahead and take advantage of these great opportunities! They are a way to add some excitement to your summer and also become familiar with the subjects you are most interested in.

Shark in the Water

Olympic_Swimming_Pool_-_Fast_LaneThe worst case scenario of a hot day in summer is to go to a pool or lake and not know how to swim. Linda Carrillo, 12, says, “When I was 4, my mom took me to the local YMCA so that I could learn to swim. Since then, I try to go with friends who also know how to swim. Everyone needs to learn to swim.”
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), about one in five children die who are under the age of fourteen, but what is more alarming is that the statistics for minorities drowning is higher than other ethnicities.

This could be due to a number of factors so taking precaution before heading swimming is needed. Yvette Sanchez, 13, and her younger sister Lorena, 5, attend the local swimming pool most days of the week, alone. This means that they head to the pool without a parent to watch over them.

Lorena says, “My big sister watches me. Plus I have these floaties on my arms.”

Despite this, Sanchez admits that she herself has not learned to swim. She says, “I can dog paddle, but not swim. I should learn. That is why I come here, to the pool. To learn and teach myself and my sister one day at a time.”

According to CDC, public pools have the highest numbers of drownings due to lack of supervision by adults or lifeguards. Rosita, 19, a lifeguard at Imperial Valley pool says, “There are three of us on duty. I sit here [on a bench] and Mark and Jesse patrol the pool.”

Sanchez says, “I think the lifeguards are cool. I wish they would get in the water or watch us from those high seats, but they are there, always watching so I am not too scared.”

Despite this, many children and parents who head to the local pool to relax, often forget that lack of barriers, wearing lifejackets and lack of swimming lessons results exists in case of an emergency.

Jackie, 15, a weekend regular at this pool says, “It gets pretty packed on the weekends here. I sometimes have to stop my swimming and make sure my little sisters still have their floaties on and are close by me. There are six or seven families in one area. The lifeguards are as old as I am. How are all three of them going to make sure these seven families are safe without really trying to be a part of the solution?”

Jackie adds, “That is why when we hear a whistle or hear the lifeguard yelling, we know we have to stop. Learning to swim has also made me and my little sisters feel safer. They are fast swimmers too!”

Research has shown that swimming lessons do help. Take lessons before going to a pool alone. Learn CPR and wear life jackets or use goggles and sunblock to prevent accidents from occurring. Have a safe time at your local pool, but remember with caution.

Influential Latinas

March is an important month to honor women who fought for what they believed in and made a difference in the world. These Latinas never gave up, didn’t take no for an answer, and kept trying to change the world.

Jovita_Idár1. Jovita Idar (September 7, 1885- June 15, 1946) American journalist, a civil rights worker reported discrimination against Mexican children for her father’s newspaper, “La Cronica”In 1911 she co-founded “La liga femenil mexicanista” which she was the first president to. She created free schools for Mexican children and also helped the poor. During the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920), she entered Mexico only to care for the wounded along the border and later organized the “White Cross” that gave aid to wounded soldiers on both sides. She fought for the civil rights of Mexican-Americans while also being part of the “Primer Congreso Mexicanista” which fought inequality and racism.

Photo credit: Judybaca.com

Photo credit: Judybaca.com

2. Judith F. Baca (September 20, 1946), an American Chicana artist, organized over 1,000 young people in Los Angeles to create more than 250 murals citywide. She was determined to give every person a voice in art and urban culture. Baca used murals and artwork to make people feel at home, and in 1970 she gave art bridge to a neighborhood in Boyle Heights. In the first team she created she had twenty members from four different gangs and brought them together by a general view of the art they would make.

Photo credit: doloreshuerta.org

Photo credit: doloreshuerta.org

3. Dolores Huerta (April 10, 1930) labor leader and civil rights activist, alongside of Cesar Chavez co-founded the United Farm Workers, she received plenty of recognition for her many hours spent in fighting for women’s’ rights. On June 5, 1968 Huerta was present in Robert F. Kennedy’s victory speech where a few meters apart from Huerta, he got shot and died. In September 1988, Huerta was beaten by the San Francisco Police officers during a peaceful protest of president George W. Bush, she was severely damaged and in need of significant surgeries. In 1997 she was named one of the three most important women of the year by Ms. Magazine and a year later recognized as one of the 100 most important along with leaders such as Mother Theresa, Rosa Parks, and Indira Gandhi.

Photo credit: Biography.com

Photo credit: Biography.com

4. Rita Moreno (December 11, 1931) actress, the only Hispanic and one of few to have won all four major annual American entertainment awards including an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy and a Tony, and second Puerto Rican to win an Academy Award. When she was just 11 years old she put her voice into Spanish language versions of American films. By the time she was 13 she had her first Broadway role in “Skydrift”, March 1954 she was featured on the cover of “Life” magazine with only 23 years of age.



5. Selena Quintanilla (April 19, 1971- March 31 1995) singer, by age 14 she recorded her first album for a record company although she was not signed. Her father took her out of school in the eighth grade and at seventeen got her high school diploma by the American School Program. In 1987 Selena won Best Female Vocalist at the “Tejano Music Awards” and two years later she got signed. At the top of her career, Selena visited local schools to talk to students on the importance of education, while she was getting involved with children and families, she won the hearts of millions of fans. In 1995 she scheduled her English album to release in the summer, earlier in the year she got shot by her former fan club president and caused her death two weeks before her 24th birthday. Two days later it was in the front cover of The New York Times, her funeral brought 60,000 people, and on her birthday, George W. Bush, governor of Texas, declared her birthday, April 12th, to be known as the “Selena Day”.

These brave Latina leaders continue to be an inspiration to thousands of people. They never gave up on their dreams, they fought for what they believed in, and still live in people’s hearts like the good role models they are.


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