Are Sororities Right For Me?

Before coming to college I thought sororities were not as inclusive with Latinas. How could I, a black haired, brown eyed, tan skinned girl, who would never be caught wearing anything other than sweat pants and sneakers, fit in with a bunch of sorority girls? Plus, weren’t sororities for girls with bad grades, who liked to drink and party? Yeah, not for me. But as it turns out, sorority and fraternity life is available to people of all backgrounds. Here at the University of Texas at Austin, I got involved with Sigma Lambda Alpha Sorority Incorporated, Señoritas Latinas en Action (SLA), and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Now, for those of you chicas who are soon to be freshman and don’t quite understand what a sorority is, here’s a quick overview as described by Ball State University:

–      A group of women formed by sisterhood and common goals and aspirations;

–      Who make a commitment to each other for life;

–      Who share in their efforts, friendship and knowledge;

–      Who grow, learn, and together make the Greek Letter Organization.

These common goals shape the foundation of a sorority, but each sorority is different with a unique vibe and dynamic.

While attending Adeleante, a university sponsored event aimed to promote Latino based clubs and organizations, I was getting ready to leave when I was stopped in my tracks by loud stomping and chanting. I turned around to find a group of girls “Strolling” on stage, dancing, stepping, and yelling their hearts out as they recited their sororities goals and values. It looked like so much fun and I felt such admiration for what they stood for that I decided to stay a few more minutes. As they stepped off stage, I watched as they walked towards their booth and in a matter of seconds I was standing there, too. While the show they put on was spectacular, I realized that although they seemed like great girls they just didn’t seem like the group for me. So, again, I decided sororities weren’t for me. I was completely done, UNTIL… I was called over by a girl with blue hair, and another dressed like the next CEO of Microsoft, and another who was dressed in gym shorts and a t-shirt, like me! Speaking with them for just a few minutes felt like I had known them all my life. That day I met my sisters, my best friends, and even some of my current roommates. I soon came to find out how Latina sororities are not like white sororities. We are loud and proud of our Latina heritage. We have cookouts, we stroll, we educate others of the different cultures, we participate in events that serve our community, and, when you feel alone and far away from your loved ones, we are a second home away from home.

While being in a sorority was the best choice for some, including myself, it’s not for everyone — and that’s okay! Keep in mind that not every sorority is the same, it’s important to review your options. Pick a sorority that builds you up, and brings out the best of you. When I told my friends I wanted to join a sorority, the first thing they told me was “don’t let them change you.” However, a good sorority WILL change you. They won’t change who you are. They will change how you are for the better. In your areas of strength they will make you confident. In your areas of weakness they will provide a safe place for growth, a hand to hold when you need guidance, and continuous support throughout your journey. You can make your experience a stereotype or you can use it to build a strong foundation for your future. That is every individual’s choice.

If you do join a sorority, you are most likely to meet a group of girls that will leave a mark in your heart for a lifetime. Sisters is not a word taken lightly. And I promise you that even after you graduate. When everyone goes back home and you are miles and miles apart, there will be snapchats and groupme notifications 24/7. There will be random trips to visit each other, and there will be tons of beautiful memories and a bond so strong that can never be forgotten.

And I’m not the only one who thinks so either, Wendy Mejia, Biomedical Engineering graduate from 2015,  says: “SLA prepared me as a leader in the work force. I owe my success in my career so far to my sisterhood; holding office as president developed my leadership and management skills that are essential in a start up environment. Being in a sorority holds many negative stigmas, however, SLA is one of the best choices I made as an undergraduate. Not to mention, I found my best friend through SLA, who I never would have met other wise.”

To find out more about your school’s sororities, visit your Student Affairs office (or website) and go to back-to-school events. Most school’s host welcoming events for greek life (sororities and fraternities) alone.

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.

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.

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:

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.

Making Friends in College

Besides stressing over how to pay for college, what classes to take, and not having parents around, incoming college freshman have to worry about one more thing: friendsickness. According to the American College Personnel Association website, friendsickness is “having difficulty letting go of precollege friendships and investing in new ones.” Are you a victim of friendsickness?  If so, keep the following in mind:

For the mariposas that are flying away:

The car door closes, your million and one bags are stuffed in the trunk, and you wave goodbye to the city you have known your whole life. A whole new beginning is waiting for you as you begin your college life. However, you cannot seem to shake your memories  and, more importantly, you cannot forget your amigas. Having promised to stay in touch and never forget each other, you hope that stays true for the rest of your lives. You already know that you have friends who will always be dear to you, so go out and find friends in this whole new world, don’t be nervous.

First of all, go to all the freshman socials provided by the college, but it may be a little awkward because everyone is a little scared in this big new word. However, since all of you have this in common, find a way to break the ice and meet great people (and free food)! You’ll be spending a lot of time in the dorms, which makes it a great place to find friends. You will be around these people constantly which is a great groundwork to make new and interesting memories. Outside of the dorm, your hungry college self will surely be yearning for a bite to eat at the dining hall. You can bond with your lunch time pals over how bad (or surprisingly delicious) the food is. You can also whine about how much you miss your mom’s enchiladas.When it comes to eating you’ll want to manage your food intake, stay away from the dreaded Freshman 15. You can fix this problem by going to the rec center, it’s a great way to stay fit plus there are group workouts and activities where you can meet your new gym buddies. This also applies to joining sports around campus.

Your only interests can’t just be sleeping, eating, and exercising, and the college knows that. To connect with your interests, and with your new friends, make sure to join a lot of clubs! When you join a team that has the same interests you will surely find people that click. If you don’t find any clubs that spark your interest, join something that sounds fresh and new! Lastly, enjoy your new city by finding and making adventures with your new college friends. Guadalupe Villas, a college freshman that left home, gushes, “The best part is meeting new people and getting to see the diversity of a university out of your city.”

For the flores remaining firmly planted:

You watch all of your friends leave their homes, their families, and you behind. You go back home and snuggle in your bed knowing that you have the comfort of remaining in your hometown. Even with this comfort, you know that you will miss your friends dearly. You have a whole town that you think you know better than you know yourself, but you don’t have your pals by your side to be your shoulder to cry on, or to laugh wildly with. It’s time to make friends with the rest of your city.

Just because you’re staying home does not mean everything has to continue to be the same. You can talk to people you would never have hung out with in high school. They’ll help you see your hometown in a whole new light. Also, you’re most likely not the only friend that chose to stay.  Reconnect with these friends and continue building those friendships. Consider spending  a lot of time on campus. You’ll see a new side of town, and be sure to bump into old and new friends.  Maybe you’ll even have classes with old friends, like Melissa Rivas. Melissa, who stayed in her hometown, says, “I was lucky enough to have friends in my classes. I became really good friends with people I was only sort of close with during high school.” In order to make your home town tons of fun, stay entertained and join school clubs. You won’t feel the absence of your old friends if you keep yourself busy. Also, when you’re involved, you can bond with people that have common interests.

To keep in touch:

It proves wise and fun to visit your best friend’s campus. It’s an excuse for a road trip and nothing feels better than seeing an old friend face to face.  The second best thing to meeting someone in person is a face to face encounter through webcam, like through Skype. Schedule a Skype date with your friends! When asked how to keep in touch with friends Courtney Riddlebarger, a college junior, commented, “I had a roommate in college that was an exchange student from Finland. Now that she moved back [to Finland], we keep in touch through our weekly Skype dates on Sundays.”  Everybody is on Facebook and Twitter these days; contact your buds through Facebook (and more) to let them know you keep them in mind. A “Hey, this crazy thing happened and I thought of you!” on their wall or inbox can make a huge difference.

Perhaps you hadn’t thought that many people would care what you write about in your blog, but your friends do, especially if they don’t see you everyday. Create a blog where you and your close friends can write about your daily experiences. The blog can be about anything and everything you want to write about. When asked about how she would keep in touch, high school senior, Nadia Garcia stated, “I will probably schedule calls with them since I don’t think we’ll have time to find any other way to be a part of each other’s lives.” Besides calling, you can also text your friends, it’ll be just like they never left — except you can’t make plans to meet up at the mall later.

Melissa Rivas, a college sophomore, says, “I haven’t talked to one of my close friends since graduation day. We had known each other since middle school and now I don’t even know what city she’s in anymore.” If you don’t want this to happen, don’t break your Skype dates, don’t stop blogging, and don’t stop with the messages. If you and your friends keep on being dedicated, you’ll mold friendships that will truly last forever.

Decolonize Your Diet: Latin American Superfoods

Raw Organic Quinoa Seeds

Raw Organic Quinoa Seeds

In recent years there has been a movement towards healthy living, which includes eating a healthier diet. As more and more Latinos face health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and different forms of cancer, it is extremely important to take care of our bodies. The easiest way to accomplish this is by changing our diet. Food blog Decolonize Your Diet teaches people the importance of eating natural food: “it is time to reclaim our cultural inheritance and wean our bodies from sugary drinks, fast food, and donuts. Cooking a pot of beans from scratch is a micro-revolutionary act that honors our ancestors and the generations to come.” So maybe we ought to think twice before we pass on the beans.

Here are 10 foods you can introduce to your diet that are not only super healthy, but can help you connect back to your ancestral roots:

Quinoa has been all the craze lately, this grain is a popular substitute for rice. It is rich in nutrients and acts as a complete source of protein (something that can’t be said about other grains). Quinoa is rooted in Andes region of South America. It was one of the two significant sources of food for the Incas, the other being maiz.

Bell Peppers:
Bell peppers are full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients, which provides potential anti-cancer benefits. Bell peppers have also been found to provide 7 percent of total vitamin C intake. Bell peppers have been cultivated for over 9000 years in South and Central America. It was first “discovered” by European colonizers in the 1500-1600’s.

Chia Seeds:
Chia seeds used to be available in certain health stores, the superfood seeds have become so popular that they are now common place in restaurant menus, and grocery store isles. There are about 140 calories per two tablespoons along with omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and protein. These seeds are popular as additives in fruit smoothies and shakes since they contain all nine essential amino acids, which are essential for muscle-building. Other popular ways to eat them include sprinkling into yogurt, oatmeal, or in a salad.

The chayote, native to Mexico, is a member of the squash family. In fact the word chayote derives from the Nahuatl word chayotli. Chayote comes in two forms, prickly and smooth. It can be eaten raw in salads or stuffed and baked. Other preparations include mashing, pickling, frying, or boiling. The chayote contains fiber and is high on potassium and low on sodium which makes it good for supporting healthy blood pressure.

Sweet Potatoes:
Sweet potatoes are native to Central and South America and have been consumed since prehistoric times. Sweet potatoes are loaded with antioxidants and minerals, such as manganese, iron, and vitamins C,E, and D. Their high potassium content is great for lowering blood pressure because it removes excess sodium and regulates fluid balance in the body. They also help in reducing stress since they can help relax muscles and steady nerves. Sweet potatoes should be steamed or boiled when cooked to get the most nutritional benefit.

Sunflower Seeds:
Sunflower seeds make a great go-to snack and are readily available almost everywhere. These seeds are the actual seeds of the sunflower plant and have been eaten by Native Americans for over 5,000 years. They not only help get you through until your next meal but they contain high amounts vitamin E, magnesium, and  selenium which helps in preventing cardiovascular disease, maintaining healthy bone production and reducing cholesterol.

It is no small secret that papayas are native to Latin America. This delicious fruit was once called the “fruit of the angels” by Christopher columbus. It contains high levels of vitamin E as well as the digestive enzyme, papain, which  has been shown to help with inflammation and to improve healing from burns.

Blueberries are often included in health lists for their high antioxidant values and associated health value. However, what many don’t know is that this superberry is native to North America and Native Americans used different parts of the plant for medicinal purposes.

Peanuts are not actually nuts, they’re legumes (similar to peas, lentils, and other beans) and are believed to have originated in South America.  Peanuts grew as far north as Mexico when the Spanish began their exploration of the “New World.” Peanuts are rich in fat, the kind of fat you want in your body. The monounsaturated fats in peanuts are important for a healthy heart. In fact they have higher levels of antioxidants than apples or carrots, which helps reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease.

The cashew nuts, as you know them, are actually the seeds stuck at the bottom of the cashew apple. They belong to the same family as the mango and pistachio and are native to Brazil.The fruit is actually considered a delicacy in Brazil, and the juice of the cashew apple is considered a popular beverage. The nut itself contains many of the same benefits as peanuts, and it contains essential unsaturated fatty acids as well as monounsaturated fats that are good for your heart.

Writing a College Essay

One of the main things when applying to college is the admission essay. The admission essay, or essays if you have to submit more than one, is your chance to impress college admission officers with your dazzling personality. They have your resumé, test scores, etc., so the admission essay is your opportunity to show the person behind the impressive application packet.

“It’s crazy to write a college essay where you have to sound mature yet let your personality shine through,” says Britney Espada, a high school senior in New York City.

There are many ways to show your personality through the essay. First, make sure to believe in yourself. Without having confidence, it will show through your writing and to the college admissions officer. Admission prompts vary between universities, but common questions include why you want to attend, describe a leadership experience, and/or to explain how you overcame an obstacle.  If this is not the case, then students have the liberty of choosing their own subject.

The following steps is to help high school seniors who need a ‘magical godparent’ for guidance:

1. Read the question or prompt. 
Make sure you understand what the college wants from you. This means that you must know how to answer the prompt well so that you avoid beating around the bush and confusing the admissions personnel. You will want to make it easy for them to know your answer right away. A helpful tip is to tailor the response to the university. For example, having a generic answer for why you want to attend college or how you overcame the biggest obstacle in your life is a good start. A stronger response is one that shows how you overcame the obstacle and how this experience has taught you valuable lessons that you will apply as a student at the university you’re applying to.

2. Know your strengths and weaknesses.
It is important to know your greatest traits as this will be your selling point in your essay. Write them down on a piece of paper or type it up. If you are having trouble, think about instances where you have excelled or write about activities you are passionate about like your love of helping the community, a sport, or extracurricular activity.

3. Start writing!
When you’re ready to start drafting your college essay, don’t pay attention to correct tenses or grammar yet. Just write some sentences to get the flow going. If you feel that one topic is easier to write than the other, then feel free to do so. Even the ordinary everyday activities can be interesting to read about.

4. Pay attention to your introduction.
Remember to make it lively. You could start writing right in the action to catch the attention of the admissions officer. They skim through the large volume of college essays they receive, so if you have a strong introduction then it’ll make your essay more memorable. A good introduction could start with something like “Baked Alaska. It is delicious to eat but darn right hard to bake, but it has taught me how to surpass obstacles.”

5. Organization is key!
Then, when you have more content in your draft, arrange which paragraph should go where. You can start right in the action or with an appropriate introduction where you’d rather introduce yourself or the question.

6. Don’t be afraid of sounding casual.
It’s better to sound authentic than presumed. This of course does not mean that you can use offensive words for dramatic effect or any slang words. The point is to avoid using flowery language such as imbroglio.

7. Now edit your grammar.
(Steps 5 and 6 can be combined).

8. Take a break after working on your first draft.
This could be a couple of minutes or days. The point of this is to see your essay with fresh eyes.

9. Review one more time.
Now, go back and edit your essay again. As you’re reading ask yourself : did I answer the question? At this point show your writing to a friend, teacher, parent, or counselor, for feedback. Make revisions if needed.

11. Submit!
At last you are done! Pat yourself on the shoulder, because you are ready to submit your college essay with confidence.

Hopefully this guide will be helpful for young folks applying to college. Buena suerte!

College Talk: Financial Burden

Every typical family, no matter the demographic, has financial concerns to think about, such as bills, mortgages, and weekly expenses, just to name a few. However, when we do take families’ backgrounds into account, a different perspective on the possible financial grind of American life is revealed. Latino households are still feeling the effects of the recession that hit the nation starting in 2008, which was a nation-wide lag in economic activity. While there are many American families who can say they have recovered from the hard times the recession imposed, there are a number of Latino families who are having to make financial decision with the weight of the recession still on their shoulders.

So for the Latino families still feeling the recession, what expenses will have to be put on the back-burner? Well, the answer to this may be different for each household depending on the family’s needs. However, one particular expense to highlight at present would be the cost of higher education. Teens in high school are typically encouraged by counselors and administrators to consider college. It is not unusual for parents to want their children to lead lives more successful than their own, which, for many Latino teens, especially first-generation U.S. citizens, this would mean attending college and perhaps earning multiple degrees.

Although Latino parents would likely want their teen to be looking into higher education, there is still the issue that this might be a financial burden on the family. It is common in a family for the parents to want to protect their children from the world of “grown-up concerns,” one of which is money. However, teens are old enough to know that they are not guaranteed a place in an American college or university without work, motivation, and money, so what is the conversation about the prospect of college like between Latina teens and their parents, if there even is one?

For El Paso teens Camila Mosier, 15, and Melissa Acosta, 13, conversations about college have definitely been held at length before. Both girls’ parents have expressed that they want them to attend college although they understand it might be a financial strain. That is why they have also encouraged the girls to stay focused and work hard throughout their high school years, allowing them a better chance of earning scholarships. Although she is only a first-year in high school and won’t be making serious choices about college for a few years, Melissa Acosta has shown that there are ways in which she as a dedicated student can make sure she has a better chance of attending college.

“I decided to attend Valle Verde High School. It’s an early-college school, and I am planning to study psychology…I hope that with great effort and work I can be valedictorian,” says Melissa.

Because she is attending an early-college high school, Melissa will be able to graduate with her associate’s degree and will have the opportunity to graduate from a Texas college or university in fewer years than most.

“My parents have started a fund but these days that’s obviously not enough,” says Camila, who has the understanding that what she pursues now will influence her college applications.

Camila plays the cello and acts, and although she doesn’t know what she wants to study yet, she knows that she can continue to grow in her skills as a cellist and actress and use these skills to her advantage.

Getting Involved in Sports

People turn to sports as kids, teens, and young adults for a number of reasons. For many, playing a sport is an extracurricular outlet that allows them to exercise their skills in teamwork and physical activity.

Evelyn currently runs track and cross-country at Americas High School in El Paso, Texas. “People don’t appreciate girls in sports, specifically Latina women…so I think it [is] better to have more diversity,” states Evelyn Gomez , 16.  Although Evelyn makes a very good point by acknowledging that female athletes are not shown the same appreciation as the men in the world of athletics, she also recognizes that girls and women continue to excel in their respective sports, regardless, and achieve their goals.

“I admire the [girls] in my high school that get scholarships for the sports I play.” Seeing that her fellow teammates can accomplish so much is very motivating to Evelyn.

19-year-old college sophomore Zaira Lujan also ran track and cross-country throughout her years at Coronado High School in El Paso, Texas. When she started at the University of Rochester in the Fall of 2014, Zaira had intend to run track again, but plans changed and she did not join the team. Instead, come second semester, Zaira found herself playing a different sport altogether, one she’d never imagined she would play.

“I went to the [rugby] practices and loved the vibe the team had. They were open and accepting…I’m glad that I gave it a chance,” said Zaira.

Having played multiple sports, both Evelyn and Zaira know a thing or two about dedication and teamwork. These are the values that make each team member strong in mind and body. “In my competitions, I didn’t run against other girls, per say, but I ran against  myself. I don’t know about the abilities of the other runners, but I know mine and that’s all I need to concentrate on…” says Zaira, as she reflects on her years as a runner. Zaira believes that through self-motivation as well as encouragement by her coaches and teammates, she has become a better athlete.

Evelyn also acknowledges the positive impact that playing a sport has had on her life: “Participating in a sport provides structure and discipline…It helps you be prompt, ready, [and able to] overcome challenges.” These are qualities that both athletes have been able to apply when they are participating in their respective sports, but they have also positively affected their approaches to academics and other responsibilities.

Not only are women athletes underappreciated, as Evelyn suggests, but Latinas are also noticeably underrepresented in U.S. sports teams. This is not necessarily something that should be a weight on the shoulders of young Latinas, whether they are simply looking for an activity to join or looking to play professionally. However, it is something for the nation as a whole keep in mind. It is difficult for girls to even name a professional U.S. Latina athlete that they can say they admire.

Evelyn and Zaira definitely advise Latinas everywhere to stick with or try out a sport, if they are up for it. They both see the value of playing in a sport from a non-competitive standpoint, as participation can result in new friendships and help one learn about her physical strengths.

What’s Your Study Style?

How do you learn? To be able to answer that question, you must first figure out your way of thinking. There are plenty of ways to gather information, but there are ways that can help you better understand and remember knowledge for school tests. provides 7 different styles of learning to help one understand their style of gathering information. Solitary learning is best described as someone who prefers to study independently. If this sounds like you, be sure to study in a quiet, distraction free place. It’s always okay to talk amongst yourself and think out loud to help yourself memorize what you need to know.

The verbal learner is someone who learns faster by hearing. If this sounds like you express your  style with your parents and teacher. They may give the okay to bring a small tape recorder during verbal lessons. This way you can use that recorded info while you study.

Aural learners also learn better while listening, however it’s even better for them when they are hearing it in music form. If you feel that you can pick up on learning lyrics to a song quickly this may be your style! Try thinking of your favorite melody and make it school based. For example,you can use rhyming words to expand your vocabulary or even with counting. If you have a keyboard or something that plays different samples of sounds you can study each lesson listening to each sound at a time. The next day before you study again, play that sound and see if you can remember what you were studying the time before.

The mathematical learner is one who learns best by using charts or formulas to study. If youre a note taker this may be your style! gives ideas on different ways of taking notes. Some examples would include the web; which almost looks like a spider. Grab a piece of paper put your topic in the middle then circle it. Then you create legs, on each leg you write an important fact about that topic. There is also the split page method. Draw a line down the middle of a sheet of paper; use the left for your topic or date, use the right side for definitions, facts, and/or details of when certain events took place. Ideas like these will help keep you organized while you take notes to study.

Reading notes to help you learn can also be compared to the visual learner. A visual learner is someone who learns better with pictures, words, and even colors.  Even if you like to watch someone demonstrate a lesson this may be you! Using flash cards can be helpful with learning. You would write a topic, number, or drawn image on one side of a card and the details on the other side. Color coding while taking notes could also be helpful. Use colorful play dough to recreate part of a map for that geography assignment. You may find that the colors will help you pin point each states location easily.  Think of something you want to memorize, then create a picture. You may find that the next time you see that image you will remember what you had learned before. Visual media is like a “how to” video. You may find that you grasp information better by watching someone show you how it’s done vs writing or speaking about it.

A social learner is someone who wants to interact with others while learning. If you have a tutor or have been part of a study group this may be you! Communication is key for your style and you learn better role playing or even using many techniques in a group setting. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get involved with what you want to learn. No matter your style, you can always ask your family to help with studying too.

Last but not least is our “hands on” learner. If you like to actually touch or act out what you are trying to learn this may be you! Practice your fractions with slices of pizza for fun. If you’re in class and a teacher asks for a helper, get involved! You may end up surprising yourself and the class at how quickly you can keep up with the task.

We all have different ways of learning. Some may learn in more ways then just one. So before you get ready to study figure out your style. It may save you a lot of extra time and energy. Most importantly it can help improve your confidence and your grades too.


Preparing for College

By Sarai Melchor CollegeChica1

As young Latinas, we are advised by not only our elders, but also our community to take advantage of what this country has to offer and to put ‘mucho esfuerzo’ in everything.

As a rising senior, I want to help you chicas who are getting ready to enter college by giving you some tips.

1. Don’t feel pressured to attend a prestigious school
Seriously, folks. You can save thousands of dollars by attending another school where you will get a bigger bang for your buck.

2. For those of you who are moving away…
Do not pay attention to your families if they try to guilt you into staying. Our community loves to stay close to our relatives, but some might accuse you of abandoning them. Of course this isn’t true for anyone, but I have heard many of stories like these. Heck, even my parents tried to dissuade me from the idea of living on campus, but I kept my ground.

3. Don’t rush on choosing a major.
Unless you are more or less certain that you love it, but keep in mind that college courses are WAY different than high school.  Basically, the first two years of college are going to be about completing those basic general requirements. While doing so, register for classes that catch your interest from different departments, so that you’ll hopefully find a major that fits you.

4. Do not choose a career path that your parents want.
They might say “this job is worthwhile” and pays great or “mejor seas una abogada” (better become a lawyer). Defend yourself and say that they are not the ones studying. It is your career path and your future. You are going to get that degree with bountiful knowledge.

5. Rent your books or buy them used.
If you get your syllabus a couple of weeks before the semester starts, buy your textbooks cheap by researching the best places to order.

6. Stay on top of your coursework!
College coursework can be more challenging. This is usually the biggest shock for freshmen. Make sure that you keep a planner, either paper or an app. This will help you avoid that feeling of ‘Oh, I have a quiz tomorrow!’ I know I have.

7. Take Risks.
College is YOUR time to shine and try new things. Join clubs. Go to that karaoke event. Introduce yourself to fellow students. Have an open mind.

8. You don’t have to stay in college if you feel that it’s not right for you.
If you come to this conclusion and feel afraid to leave because of negative feedback, forget about everyone else. This is your life. You have every right to choose a better path for yourself. Do you.

Take care, queridas!