What to Expect When Starting College

College: the next big step you will remember for the rest of your life. It’s different, exciting, stressful, but also beautiful. It’s where you will start learning about yourself and the world. You will discover people that are like you, experience things you never thought you would, but will also more than likely be scared during the process. Don’t worry, chica, I got you. These are the three top things I wish someone would have told me when I started college.

Peer Pressure
Movies, social media, memes, and shows portray the average college life to be full of drinking and partying, but that isn’t always the case. Yes, you will be asked to go out, and you should once in a while, but never feel like you have to. Never feel that to be accepted you need to drink and be this crazy party animal. There are many college students, including me, who prefer to stay in on a Saturday night to watch a movie while enjoying the company of friends. You will be surprised to know that the older you get, the more you prefer to have little gatherings with friends than to be this super-wild-let’s-go-out-all-the-time person. Don’t believe what movies portray. College isn’t about partying.

Classes and Social Life
When I started college I thought it was great that I only had a class twice a week. I told myself I would make straight A’s, study a couple of hours, and then head out to Chipotle with my girls. Yeah, keeping up with classes was ridiculous. College classes are completely different from high school, especially when you’re a freshman. Most of your classes will have 50 or more people, your professor might not ever know your name, and they don’t remind you when something is due. Because of these new classes and the new environment, it’s easy for freshman to lose track of time. Academic probation happens more frequently than you think. Don’t worry though; it’s not the end of world and it’s simple to fix. In order to avoid academic probation, first and foremost: stay on top of your classes! Go to class, do your homework, study, and use a planner. This planner will be your holy grail. Start by writing down the important due dates from the syllabus and calendar in your planner. Also, study groups, tutoring, and just seeing your professor during their office hours can come a long way. Your college wants to help you succeed, so take advantage of your resources. From professors to taking advantage of programs/resources, they will help you learn how to balance school work, work, and your social life.

Homesickness
In the beginning everyone is super excited to go out on his/her own and become their own person without mom or dad being in the way. Slowly, but surely, you will start to realize that you’re tired of dorm food, doing laundry on your own and even miss hearing your mom call your name from across the house. You guessed it: you’re homesick! I felt this drastically when I moved five hours away from home. I missed my mom’s home cooking, my annoying little siblings, and just the smell of my old home. This is totally normal! You’re not alone because everyone experiences this when they’re away from home for the first time. To help get over your homesickness, join a club,or a couple clubs, make it a hobby to learn your mother’s recipes, get into a new hobby, or try fun workout groups at your school’s gym. There are even clubs catered to Latinas or a specific activity (video games, music, cooking, writing, hiking, dancing, etc.). Being involved in school will help you take your mind off of being homesick — plus, you’ll be able to make more friends and have more fun!

College is scary, yes, but once you’re there and get a feel of things, you’ll feel right at home. Though there will be stress and frustrations along the road, the college experience is one you will cherish and hold sacred for the rest of your life.

Maximizing Your Summer Staycation

Summer vacation as a college student is quite different from summer vacation in grade school. It suddenly becomes taboo to spend your summer days waking up late, watching cartoons, and just goofing around. In college, the generic “have a great summer” yearbook greeting gives way to a slightly different email signoff: “Have a productive summer.” Your classmates may be blowing up your social media with posts about their summer internships in a big city, or with photos of foreign countries where they are studying abroad. If you, instead, find yourself back in your hometown for the summer, don’t fret. You will still have plenty of time and opportunities to experience a new place and to go off on your own adventures. Until then, here are five ways for you to make the most of your summer staycation!

1.       Free Summer Events

 The warm weather offers a perfect opportunity for cities to put on a myriad of outdoor public events. The best part is, they’re usually free! (Or, at least very affordable.) Be on the lookout in your local newspaper for outdoor screenings, concerts, or farmer’s markets. “There are a ton of great activities to take advantage of,” says Brittany Ochoa, a junior at Texas A&M University, spending the summer in her hometown of El Paso, TX. “I’ve gone to a few movies in the park, and the Let Freedom Ring concert series is always a go-to weekend outing for me.” While food and drinks will cost extra, you can always bring your own snack and just go for the show.

2.       Explore Your City

           Cities and towns are not static. They are always growing and changing. If you spend most of your year away at school, then chances are that not everything stayed the same while you were gone. Exercise that newfound independence of yours to explore your city. Grab a friend and venture out. Try a restaurant in a neighborhood that you never go to. Investigate what goes on in that building that has always caught your eye, but that you have always wondered about. This is the place of your origin story, learn more about it, and you might learn something about yourself along the way.

3.       Personal Project

 We all have that secret little book of ideas, whether it’s written on actual paper, or just kept in the back of your mind. You go off to college in hopes of pursuing your passions, but you don’t always get the opportunity to actually spend time practicing them. School, work, friends are all important and all worthwhile things to devote your time, but they can also get in the way of reading that book that’s been sitting on your shelf, or playing out that melody that’s been in your head. You are approaching a chapter in your life that is void of any free time, let alone a whole season full of it. Turn your attention for the next few months to a personal project. It can be anything you want, as long as it fulfills you.

For Ochoa, that project includes “experimenting with watercolors and photography,” which she posts on her own blog. Amanda Chacon, also an El Paso native and a junior at University of Texas at San Antonio, expresses a similar sentiment, claiming that “being home and not having classes to attend has also freed up a lot of my time for recreational activities that I typically don’t have the chance to participate in throughout the semester. I’ve gone climbing a lot more while at home, and even went skydiving a few weeks ago!” You don’t have to be as daring as Amanda, but definitely don’t be afraid to try your hand at something new. This is the perfect time! 

4.       Bond with Family and Friends

It’s called a hometown for a reason. You could be anywhere else right now, but you are here because this is where your family is. This is likely the place where you grew up, where you went to school, where you met some of your closest friends. Going off to school wasn’t just an adjustment for you, it was also an adjustment for your family. Spending time with them, and with your old friends, means catching up on all the little stories that you missed while you were away and sharing the exciting new things that you have learned and experiences while you were at college. Just a fair warning: bonding with your fam could result in increased homesickness when you ship out again in the fall, but it’s totally worth reconnecting to your culture and to your support system. 

5.       Reset

 Like the exhausted laptop that you leave powered on every second of every day, sometimes you just need to reset. Now is your chance to take a breather between semesters. You know those eight-hour nights of sleep that you’re always hearing about? Now you can actually see what the big fuss is about. Without those ghastly 8 am classes or late-night study sessions, you can actually get a decent amount of sleep at night (so don’t sabotage yourself by watching Netflix until dawn.) It’s also okay to take a day every now and then to do nothing. Remember: taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of business.

Career Spotlight: Mental Health Specialist

Lety GreeneCareer Spotlight

Name: Leticia Greene

Hometown: Veracruz,Mexico

Employer: US Army

Job Title: Mental Health Specialist

What are some of your job responsibilities?
I am primarily responsible for assisting with the management and treatment of inpatient mental health activities, and counsel clients/patients with personal, behavioral or psychological problems.

What is your educational background?
On the Civilian side I have B.A in Advertising and Design that I obtained from the Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla.

On the Military side I completed my Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Fort Sam Houston,TX  in Mental Health Specialist, which is my Military Occupational Specialty 68X.

Describe your college experience and how it helped you prepare for your career:
My college experience was one of a kind. I studied in Puebla,Mexico, which was 3 hours away from home,Veracruz; therefore, I ended up moving to Puebla.

The reason why I chose a B.A in Advertising and Design is because my parents own a printing shop. I spent most of my childhood in that place. Actually, my mom told me that since I was 5 months she used to take me to her work. An interest in colors, texture, and design grew rapidly during my childhood. This led to informing my parents that I wanted to do something related to the business, photography and design. This career had it all, a combination of all my interests.

During the summer break of  2007, I had the opportunity to work at a Summer camp in upstate  New York. The fact that I was exposed to different people and cultures made me want to come back for more, and I did. After I graduated from college, I decided to go to New York as an Au Pair for a year, but I ended up staying for 4 years!

During those four years in New York, I studied English as a second language and Conversation and pronunciation courses at the Westchester Community College. When my level of English improved I decided to do something more challenging; for this reason, I did a couple of college courses in Multimedia Programming and Design at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. However, I wasn’t able to graduate because I chose to take advantage of the great opportunity to join the US Army.

My college experience wasn’t all in the classroom. College for me meant living on my own in a different city, different country, facing challenges on my own and mastering a second and a third language. The hardest part of college was being away from my family and friends, but the hard work and perseverance paid off.

How did you find your current job?
When I was in college in NY, a friend, whom had been recently recruited by the U.S. army and with knowledge of my Brazilian Portuguese skills, told me about theMilitary Accessions Vital for the National Interest (MAVNI) program in the US Army. MAVNI is a recruiting program that permits legal non-citizens who posses in-demand skills to join the Army in exchange for expedited U.S citizenship after graduating from ten weeks of Basic Combat Training or accepting a commission as Army Officers.

Luckily for me, a spot for Brazilian Portuguese was open. I took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) and the The ACTFL, The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages,Oral Proficiency Interview, or OPI. The OPI is a live, 20-30 minute telephone conversation between a certified ACTFL tester and the candidate. I nailed both of them, I was admitted, and I decided that 68X Mental Health Specialist  was the best option for me.

What did you do to prepare for this career?
I trained in Fort Sam Houston as part of  Advanced Individual Training (AIT) in the US Army. The training consisted of 3 months of classes and physical training and 1 month of clinicals where you are assigned by groups to practice your skills and knowledge at a local hospital.

What do you like the most about your job?
Helping those with invisible wounds and the satisfaction of seeing patients overcoming problems that have interfered in their lives.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
Being a Mental Health Specialist is a very mentally-emotionally charged career, where you’ll have to put yourself someone else’s shoes. No matter what, patient care is first; you have to give a 100% every day. You also have to be very attentive because you never know the outcome of a wrong sign with body language, and how the lack of undivided attention to someone can be terminal.

What advice would you give to help a girl prepare for a job like yours?
This job is excellent for someone who really enjoys helping  others; someone who has a commitment to find different and creative approaches to help someone who needs to be listened or is having a hard time to communicate his/her needs. A job where you have to remain both compassionate and professional at the same time. However, it is also extremely rewarding when you realize that you actually help someone who probably was on the wrong route.

What do you do for fun when you aren’t working?
When I’m not working I spend time with my new family in El Paso, my husband and my husky. I am a strong believer of dedicating quality time to those who you love and care about you. I love enjoy photography, baking, going to the movies, volunteering and working out.  I’m still working on making friends in El Paso area; it is not easy to make friends when you have different activities going on, but it is important to have a strong primary support group to rely on wherever you are.

Teens Give Advice on Bullying

Teens from our Latinitas – El Paso’s Teen Academy answer hot topic questions on bullying.

“My friend was being bullied because she was too dark. I didn’t know what to do since the boys didn’t really care when people confronted them. What do I do in this type of situation when the boys don’t listen?”

First, tell an adult. If the bullying is happening at school, tell a teacher. If it is happening in your neighborhood, tell a parent or guardian. Know that you are not being a tattle-tale by doing this; you are looking out for your friend. An adult will be able to stop the bullying if they see it happen. They can also speak to the bullies about why bullying is wrong and potentially get the bullies to stop bullying altogether. Second, let your friend know that you will be there for them if they need advice or just someone to talk to.

“One time I was pushed for no reason. They just wanted to bully me.”

Tell your mom. Your mom can speak to the parents of the kids that pushed you and is also a great resource to help you handle this type of situation. Also, tell yourself that you will be OK. You could even watch a Kid Present pep talk video on YouTube. Realize that this doesn’t have to get you down. Your attitude is everything. People only have the power to upset you if you let them. Lastly, don’t talk to the bullies. Sometimes silence is the best comeback you have. Being silent doesn’t mean that you’re not standing up for yourself, it tells yourself and the bullies that you are not going to stoop to their level.

 

“How can I get through bullying?”

Bullying is tough. Adults, teachers, and talk shows advise you to ignore the problem, but I know that it’s much much easier said than done. The good thing about bullying is that it’s based completely on falsehood. Anything that someone says to you that makes you feel inferior in any way is simply false. If bullying gets really bad or gets physical in any way, then definitely go to a parent or teacher for help. They have authority over your bullies and are in a better position to help you. But no matter how bad your case is, and no matter if you’ve already sought help, you still need to look yourself in the mirror and list all of your amazing traits. Pretend that you are in court, like a lawyer arguing against all the awful things your bully says about you. I’m positive the Judge would rule in your favor. Also, remember that bullies truly never do or say anything mean to you because they hate you. They do it because they hate themselves, and want to make everyone else feel small so that they will feel big. I promise you that it’s no lie. You’re awesome, remember that.

I recommend talking to an adult or a teacher. I know it’s hard to do that so if you need to take it slow, tell a friend. When you tell a friend they will probably support you and encourage your to tell an adult. Your friend can also defend you if they bullying is during school.

If you let them know that their words don’t hurt, then they wonder why bother? Be confident!

Book Review: In the Country We Love

Photo credit: inthecountrywelove.com

Photo credit: inthecountrywelove.com

In her recently released book called “In the Country We Love,” actress Diane Guerrero shares her story, full of despair, injustices, and frustration over her family’s efforts to become citizens. It is the story of struggle among a family of undocumented immigrants.

This name will pop into your mind as one of the actresses on the Latino series: “Jane the Virgin” where she plays the role of Lina, who is the best friend of the protagonist Jane Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez). You may also know her from the hit Netflix series “Orange is the New Black.” Aside from being an amazing actress, Diane Guerrero is also a successful author. She recently released a book telling her story as a Latina living in the US. Although this Latina was born in the United States, she comes from a long dynasty of Colombianos. Her parents decided to pursue the American Dream  by traveling to New Jersey, where Diane was born. Later on, her family moved to Boston.

“In the Country We Love” details her childhood and family dynamics. Her family, which includes her father, mother, and older brother, were born outside of the U.S. Diane is the only member with a U.S., which has led to her witnessing the deportation of different family members. Both of her parents were deported when she was 14. Resilience, willingness and the caring of other Colombian families was left for Diane to carry along with her new life in the states.

Her story emphasizes the struggle lived by thousands of immigrants once their families are broken up and separated because of deportation. The fear and desperation of a family to obtain U.S. citizenship and stop hiding between 1990 – 2013 is lived by 17.4 million of immigrants from Latin America countries, according to a study from the United Nations.

Living with low paying jobs, help from a few other families, and exposure to the abuse of power were some of the several obstacles encountered by Diane and her family before their deportation. After this tragic event, Diane gained courage to thrive. She stayed focused on what she wanted her life to be like in the land that did not care about her wellbeing once her family got deported. “In the Country of Love” is not a sob story, but a story of resilience. Of the realities families without U.S. citizenship encounter on a daily basis. Her story, and her family’s story, is one of strength. Diane Guerrero truly honors her family and her last name. She is a brave guerrera who has managed to survive in an environment of loneliness, lack of opportunities and discrimination. “In the Country of Love” is a must-read!

Sightseeing: Ciudad Juárez

Ciudad Juárez, Mexico is a huge city. Historically, it is the place where the adelitas were born, where the invention of the burrito was made and the place in which Margaritas were first drunk. For many of the habitants of this city, it is the home of great talents recognized as important celebrities such as Juan Gabriel, Tin Tan and even the great Ramon from El Chavo. But does it really have places for tourists? We present you some of the attractions of this beautiful city, full of hidden stories and vitality of its people.

GASTRONOMY
One of the main attractions of Juárez is the richness of its platillos. The place where the first burrito was made couldn’t be left without recognition. We have a couple of places for you to go in case you are visiting Juárez and want to taste the magnificence of its culture. The first place is called Burritos Crisostomo. This burrito market is one of the most renown among the citizens of Juárez for its delicious guisados and its quick service for customers. There’s also Burritos Ximichú, which is known for its gigantic burritos and its famous food contests among the Juarenses. These burritos have almost the same guisados as Crisostomo, but their taste can be identified for its uniqueness.

Juarez also has Flautas La Pila, which is well known for its urban environment at the center of the city. This Flautas place has quite a fame that even Juarenses say you haven’t been in Juarez if you haven’t eaten at this place.

If you are craving tacos, Tacos Ajiji has the best tacos. These tacos are the most famous among Juarenses because of their pure taste. Plus, the restaurant has an enjoyable environment! If you are driving a car, be aware that you will have difficulty finding a parking place. The place is always a reventar. By looking at the delicious piña or buche at Ajiji, it’s no a wonder why many people enjoy tacos from Ajiji.

CULTURE AND HISTORY
History in Ciudad Juarez is quite rich because of the important personalities that have stepped on this land. The city is named after Benito Juárez, one of the most recognized presidents of Mexico. This land was his refugee throughout the war of Reforma. Legend says the battle was quite a triumph, and during the battle it was necessary for Benito to stay in Juárez for his own sake; without the support of the city, he wouldn’t have succeeded during the war and we would probably still be under the domains of the church.

There’s so much history in Juarez, but there are a couple of landmarks that you have to visit, like the Casa de Adobe. This house is where Francisco I Madero became Provisional president during the Revolutionary War of Mexico. It is an important point of reference to the region itself and to the country for being the home of the intellectual who wanted to take away power from the dictator Porfirio Diaz. Known as “Rancho de las Flores” back then, the Casa de Adobe is a landmark where the whole maderista camp was settled and reunions were made. Now, it is a free admission museum decorated with all kinds of artifacts. Tourists can come to the museum and appreciate the place that once was the home of such important people to the Mexican Revolution.

Casa de Adobe is indeed a historical place, but let me tell you that this isn’t the only place where history is manifested. If you are a reader and you love to spend time reading a good book, we recommend that you go to the biggest library in Chihuahua: Biblioteca Central Carlos Montemayor at Universidad Autonoma de Ciudad Juárez (UACJ). It is a public library which consists of more than 3,000 books and even more in its online catalog.

Another fun place to visit is La Rodadora. This one of a kind museum has been recognized as one of the most important and dynamic museums of all Latin America, chicas! It is intended for kids to learn by playing and interacting with the environment by listening and acquiring a first sensory experience!

SPORTS AND OUTDOOR AREAS
If museums aren’t your thing, there are wonderful sports and outdoor areas to enjoy, like the Stadium Benito Juárez. A good thing about Stadium Benito Juarez, besides being a place for football,soccer and athletics development, is that it is next to Parque Borunda. This place is known for its amazing jueguitos,which is the small version of a fair in Juarez. It also has carritos chocones in case you feel like driving and crashing into your friends. It is also known for its puestesitos of food and toys. Elotes, raspas and even chilindrinas are found at this small fair. It is a fun place to be if you want to hang out with your friends and eat something traditional from the city.

Another place to check out is the Central Park next to the Bachilleres gym. It is the biggest park in Ciudad Juarez and full of things to do! It has a main building where workshops from different activities are held, a library where you can find books with various topics (from university works to children stories) and art exhibitions from tarahumaras who have workshops about the customs of their culture. It is also the place for many events in Juarez, such as fairs, clown shows, and CONADE events (athletic organization), as well as government meetings. The peculiar thing about this park is that there are animals inside the park. They pass through every corner of the park at all time. Central Park has become their habitat, girls. These animals include ducks, gooses and even colored peacocks.

Juárez has a vibrant culture and atmosphere. From exquisite Mexican food to historically rich places, Juarez is an amazing city.

Latina Beat: Proud of My Culture

Butterfly logoItzel and Bianca share why they’re proud to Latinas:

“I’m always proud to show off my Hispanic pride. I have a white complexion, so people don’t think that I am hispanic — even though I’m 100% Latina. We have a very beautiful culture, full of bright vivid colors and amazing food. Growing up in a U.S.-Mexico border community, I never saw prejudice or racism towards our race/culture until I left my hometown to attend college. It was a shocking experience as I saw some of my friends get treated differently just because they looked more Hispanic than I do. I’ve had people complain to me about Hispanics without realizing that they’re complaining about Hispanics to a Hispanic. It’s hard to believe that these types of acts still occur and are very relevant in the world today. However, I don’t believe in focusing on the negative but focusing on the positive and all the amazing things hispanics are doing in their communities. We are making a name for ourselves and demanding that our voice be heard. There will always be prejudice unfortunately but we must never let that affect the pride that we have within our culture and race.” – Bianca Duran, 20
“I was born and raised in a place where two different cultures meet: La frontera. La Frontera, the zone where the United States and Mexico come face to face with each other. This is where I’ve spent all of my life and where I’ve been privileged enough to be part of these two distinct cultures that, here at the border, turn into a unique one. With both Mexican and American traditions and with both the English and Spanish language, this mixed and unique culture has given me the best of both worlds. Which is why I see myself as being both a Mexican and an American. I am very proud of belonging to a group of people who share both cultures at the same time.

Being part of both worlds has given me the opportunity of being bilingual; Of mixing languages and being able to communicate in English with certain people and Spanish. It has giving me the opportunity of feeling proud about my ancestors who fought hard to build a beautiful nation like Miguel Hidalgo, or Pancho Villa. As well as being proud of those who crossed over and fought for our rights here in this country, like Dolores Huerta. It also gives me the opportunity to celebrate 4th of July in the summer and months later for 16 de Septiembre! I love being able to practice Mexican traditions, like Día de los Muertos, and then to practice American ones as well.

Not only am I proud of having a Mexican identity, but mostly of having a Mexican American identity and of being from la frontera. My culture here, at the border, has influenced me into feeling like I belong to this special little world; where both cultures mix to form one, and where I truly get the best of both worlds.” – Itzel Ibarra, 24

APP-lying Yourself Towards a Healthier You

According to the University of Michigan’s Latina Women: Fight Against Obesity, over 71.8% of Mexican American women are overweight or obese, and  40.1% of Mexican American Women have a BMI greater than or equal to 30! A healthy BMI for young and middle aged adults is usually between 18.5 and 24.9. A big reason Latinas struggle to maintain a healthy BMI is due to low socioeconomic statuses, which forces them to buy the cheaper unhealthier foods. But let’s not lie, tambien nos encantan los tacos! Genetics also plays a big role in our weight. Not only are Latino children being fed unhealthier foods, but they are also more susceptible to being obese and having diabetes and high blood pressure.If you are looking to stay fit, a mixture of eating healthy foods and maintaining an active lifestyle. Find a routine that is best for you — no, chica, being healthy doesn’t mean running 10 miles every day.

A couple of years ago, when this chica was in high school, she underwent a 45 pound transformation with the help of various phone apps. First off, I used MyFitnessPal to track my calories. I ate everything and anything I wanted to, but I always made sure to meet my calorie goals and keep my nutrition statistics in check. On top of using apps to keep track of my calorie intake, physical activities helped me stay in shape. If I’m being honest, I owe a lot of my success to these apps. Here are a couple of free apps to check out:

en_device_iphone-bc217bccf2c1b344e81fc6e8beb50fb9MyFitnessPal
MyFitnessPal,the largest nutrition database, has over five million foods in its database. Now, don’t let this scare you; it’s super easy to use! Not only does it track your calories, it also tracks fats, carbs, vitamins and more. Plus, it can connect with over 50 fitness devices, such as fitbits, garmins and apple watches. If you don’t own any of those, you can also input your workouts manually on your phone, and it calculates your net calories for you.

Sarah Torres, who also tracks her calories on a similar app says, “I think using technology to lose weight is very convenient now a days … Everyone has some sort of smart phone and the app is easy to access unlike years back they had to actually write in a journal and actually add up all the calories on their own… now you can just scan the barcode and it does all the work for you… I think technology has made it so much easier to track and count calories than before.”

Nike Running and Nike Training Club

The Nike Running App helps you track your runs and also provides coaching for chicas that have set goals with specific distances or speeds. The cool thing about this app, is that it allows you to see the routes you have taken and the different elevations, speeds, breaks and cumulative averages in distances and speeds. It also allows for competition among friends whom have the app! So, if you are the kind of person who likes to “win, win, win no matter what,” then maybe you should consider this app the next time you find yourself in the play store.

Stephanie Garza loves apps such as these because it allows for friendly competition. “It keeps me motivated to want to do more because it also has where you can compete with other users and lets me do challenges,” she says.

Nike Training Club is different from the running app in that it works as a personal trainer. There are different 4-week programs to get lean, toned or get strong. And they are customizable depending on what it is that you are looking to achieve. Sometimes, when we are starting with our efforts towards a healthier life style, it seems like exercising is just too advanced and fast paced, but the Nike Training Club comes with instructional videos and a pause button for those who may need a quick break.

Map My Run

Like Nike Running, Map My Run tracks stats and routes, and is connectable to fitness trackers, but it is also able to connect to My Fitness Pal and can track biking, swimming,  and numerous other sports.  It allows you to create custom plans and can join competitions, but the best part is the rewards you can get for completing them! Believe it or not, with this app you are able to receive gift cards, name brand fitness apparel and tons of other goodies!

Staying healthy may be hard, but technology and determination can make it easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Latinas come in all shapes and size. Eres bellisima, no matter what. Make a move to be healthy because you love yourself and want to show your body some love. But don’t get lost in comparing yourself to others, because we are all different and beautiful in our own way.

Revisiting Real Women Have Curves

Real-Women-Have-Curves-(2002)

Revisiting the 2002 hit Real Women have Curves, there are many aspects to this movie that really spoke to me and inspired me greatly. For those not familiar with the movie, it is about a teenage Mexican-American, Ana, conquering Mexican and American social norms. Along the way, she battles family duty and deciding whether she should continue her education.

The main actress, played by America Ferrera, is a first generation Mexican- American living in East Los Angeles. Freshly graduated from high school, Ana’s mother expects her to work in her sisters sewing factory. Her professor though, Mr. Guzman, played by George Lopez, sees a lot of potential in Ana and convinces her to apply for college. Ana goes ahead and gives it a try, but with the knowledge that her family will disapprove of it and not afford it.

As the plot progresses, we can see that she is continually insulted by her mother about her “longas” (flab stomach) and hates working in her sister’s factory, but one unforgettable scene stood out to me while she was there: Ana was getting too hot from the steam of the machines, so she decides to take her top off to cool down. Her mother immediately yelled at her to put her top back on, but Ana ignored her. Instead, she persuaded the other women to take off their tops and to embrace their bodies. This scene shows women of all sizes to be proud of their bodies, and, in this moment, Ana realizes who she is. This one scene is a big realization in the movie and it helps girls realize that a woman is more than her body type. This short scene can really influence a young Latina growing up who is told that the only way to be beautiful is to be thin. Ana proves that this is not true and embraces her appearance.

Seeing a strong, independent Latina get an education, love herself, be smart, and have the courage to move on really just hit home with me. As a young Latina, I never saw anything like this in Americanized television; it was nice seeing someone just like me for a change.

Aside from fighting the norms, Ana’s romantic interest and the way she handled it moved me. Ana has a little romance with a white boy from class. At first she doesn’t even realize that he liked her, but later he asks her on a date. What I found very inspiring and just awesome, is how Ana did go along with the romance and cherished her time with him, but she put her goals first when it was time to go to college.  Ana decides to end things; the way she ended it and why is what I found inspirational. She ended things with him on a good note, and she ended things because she was going to go to college and start life all over again. Way to be independent, Ana!

Through the hardships and being accepted to college with a full scholarship, Ana realizes what every woman should realize: to embrace her body in any shape or form and to follow her dreams. After watching this movie, I was so inspired by Ana and how she took on the world. She became independent and didn’t let her culture, a boy, or even her mother stop her from loving herself and following her dream to go to college.

Every growing Latina should watch this movie. In fact, I wish I had seen this movie when I was fresh out of high school! It really would have changed my outlook in life. Even as a college senior about to graduate, it really inspired me and proved how strong and independent us Latinas can be.

Latina Organization Spotlight: Latina A.R.M.Y.

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 1.00.37 AMEveryone deserves to have someone to look up to, to empower them, to give them advice, and to give them courage and strength to help them succeed in anything. A shining example of this type of dedication is the Latina A.R.M.Y organization.

Started in 2009 in Shelton, Connecticut, this non-profit organization strives  “… to celebrate and empower young Latinas by providing inspirational role models and introducing powerful life skills for personal excellence.” Through its La Mariposa program, Latina A.R.M.Y. teaches young girls life skills, such as: Jars – journaling, affirmations, personal rules, and setting goals.

To accomplish the Jars process, role model facilitators help with hands on workshops by giving young Latinas materials, time, and space to help identify and reach her goal. During this process, accomplished Latinas give two hours of their time to speak to the young girls from local schools and communities. During the workshops, the girls are taught at least four life skills with an open-ended question segment. This greatly helps motivate young Latinas to follow their dreams and aspirations. When a young child sees someone who is like them and successful, it makes such an impact on their views of the world and of them.

But without these role models and volunteers, this organization would not be as successful, which is why it is important to volunteer for women and girl orientated organizations. This is how organizations thrive and do something meaningful that will benefit someone greatly. Not only will this look great on resumes and your overall work ethic, you will be helping a fellow Latina in need in life skills, school work, self love, and overall obstacles us Latinas go through in life.

According to the American Association of University Women, Latina girls have a higher high school dropout rate than girls in other racial or ethnic groups and also least likely to earn a college degree. Don’t you want to see a change in this trend? By volunteering and steering these young Latinas in the right direction, you can make such an impact, enough to change this statistic. By just making a difference to one Latinas life, you will start a never-ending chain in which that Latina will pass on the wisdom she received from you onto another Latina in need. To succeed and change this negative statistic, we Latinas have to empower each other and help make a positive change in this world.