Impact of the Supreme Court Ruling for the Latino Community

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On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage across the nation, making this a historic victory in the gay rights movement. Before this decision was made, 37 out of 50 states (and the District of Colombia) had already extended this right to same sex couples throughout the course of eleven years. With Massachusetts becoming the first state in the United States to allow same sex marriage in 2004, many states began to follow suit as this issue picked up wind. With the ruling, the remaining states that had yet to recognize the rights of gay couples will now be legally required to issue marriage license to them and give the legal benefits that come with it.

Upon hearing the news, individuals across the country rejoiced with their loved ones. Celebration of the decision took on various forms throughout social media as people rallied together to show their support from likes to tweets. Hashtags like “LoveisLove” and “#LoveWins” spread throughout the internet as people embraced the news. Websites like Google and Yahoo modified their logo appearance, while Facebook created a rainbow filter to go over a user’s profile picture to show support and acceptance. Historic landmarks and tourists sites alike were illuminated with rainbow colored lights on Friday night.

Simultaneously, there was explosion from those that opposed the ruling. From justices to conservative Christian pastors, their stance on the issue began to appear in headlines and their reasons varied anywhere from states’ right to religious freedom. Homophobic remarks and attitudes were seen throughout social media when the news broke, often resulting in online arguments.

Whether you are in favor with the ruling or not, it cannot be denied that the decision will go down as an important moment in the history of the United States. The Supreme Court’s verdict was based on the idea that denying gay couples the right to marry meant they were being denied equality and therefore fundamental rights as Americans.  As members of the LGBT+ community continue to fight for their rights, they have slowly been chipping away at barriers that oppress them. Celeste Ledesma, a junior at Bryn Mawr College, knew that the legalization of marriage was not the end of the fight.

Latino culture is centralized around the family unit and there are often strict social rules to uphold its values; coming out as queer can often challenge those ideals. Since that is the case, queer young Latinos/as often face the reality of being thrown out of their home or of being mistreated, of living in a homophobic household where religion or ​machismo​ often contribute to this attitude, and of facing discrimination. Often times, Latinos/as might be forced to choose between their ethnic and sexual/gender identity for their own well-being.

Ledesma argues that acceptance of being queer might depend on the generation. “When you go back to our parents’ generation or our grandparents’ generation, they might not be ready [for the change]…[the challenge then becomes of] explaining the changing world to a generation that already has their world view that set.”

Not only are queer Latinos/as fighting for the ability to be accepted by their own families, but they fight to be respected within their communities. According to a 2011 study by ​Mujeres Latinas en Accion​, a Latina advocacy organization, and ​Amigas Latinas,​ an organization to support lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning Latinas, found that 25 percent of the 300 survey Latinas felt that they were discriminated against in the Latino community. In the same survey, they found that many queer Latinas had had racist remarks directed towards them in predominately white LGBT+ support services. This discrimination and racism can have detrimental impacts on the individual’s life. When you are rejected by your loved ones, it causes extreme emotional stress.

Apart from their attempt to be accepted, queer Latinos and Latinas also have to fight against stereotypes placed on them by their own community and those outside of it. The media continues to perpetuate the stereotypes that all Latinos are lazy, uneducated, and undocumented. Some stereotypes have been created with the help of ​machismo ​and religion, while others have been created through the systematic oppression that all Latinos and other people of color face. Standards have been placed on Latinos/as on how they should act, the roles to perform, and how they should look. When individuals deviate from these standards, it causes problems.

In a time where we encourage young people to be who they are and to love themselves, we should not be hypocritical and reject those that are different from us.  Rejection of queer Latinos only fragments families and communities, driving a wedge further between them. There is nothing wrong with being queer. We love who we love, and we are who we are. If we wish to overcome things such as racism and discrimination, if we wish to overcome systematic oppression, we have to start by looking into our own community and fix the problems within. We cannot ask to be free of oppression, when we act as oppressors to others. Latinos come in all shapes, sizes, colors, sexualities, genders, and background. If we wish to create a better world for the future generations of Latinos, we have to learn to accept one another and through this, a positive social change will occur.

Guide to a Better Mental Health

Sad_Girl_bee-media.blogspot.com (8)Everyone in their lifetime has struggled with some kind of problem and has sought out help for advice, comfort, and reassurance. There is no shame in asking for guidance when you need it nor does it mean that you are weak. Humans are complex, social creatures and we cannot live life in emotional isolation from one another. Yet, strangely enough, something has changed. When we seek help for our troubles, it now means that you are not strong enough to deal with it alone, that there must be something wrong with you. In other words, seeking help for our emotional troubles has become stigmatized. The good news is, that there is absolutely nothing wrong for asking help nor is it indicative of the strength of your character.

Summing up enough courage to seek help to treat a mental illness or a personal struggle is a huge step towards the right direction. Seeking help is indicative that the individual acknowledges that they are not “okay” and that they cannot go through the process alone. Luckily, there is a large amount of resources available for those that want to receive help that range from therapists to hotlines. Each type of resource varies in its treatment, but ultimately they serve to improve the well-being of the individual.

Professional Help
Seeing a mental health professional has the benefit of having a face-to-face, private session. Having a safe space where you are able to freely express yourself in any way without judgment can be liberating. According to Celeste Nevarez, a licensed psychiatrist who works at the Family Service of El Paso, she believes that confiding in someone, whether it’s a professional or a friend, helps remove the feeling of isolation for the individual. Just talking can be therapeutic in of itself.  Often times where might be situations where the cost of therapy comes up and whether it can be affordable in the long run. Fortunately, there are systems in place that can make therapy a viable option.

Nevarez urges to call your doctor, regardless if you think you can afford therapy or not, to see the options that are available for you. The doctor will direct you to the right places. The “sliding scale” is a paying system that some private practices have adopted to help their patients. In this system, the patient pays only a portion of their earned income or what they can afford at the time. This varies with the private practice you’ve gone to, so you’ll have to call. Another way is to search for the local community mental health center since they are generally less expensive than private practices. These health centers are open to the public and are there to serve you.  Other times, there could be organizations in your city that offer their services completely free or therapists that do pro bono.

Support Groups
Support groups are another viable option for teens or adults. Sitting in a safe-environment where you are able to hear people having their own struggles helps alleviate the feeling of isolation. According to Wichita State University, support groups are often effective since it provides an environment where members “provide emotional support to one another, learn new ways to cope, discover strategies for improving their condition, and help others while helping themselves.” Knowing that you are not alone helps cope with feelings of isolation.

Mental Health Websites and Hotlines
Going to mental health websites are often helpful since you are able to obtain important information such as knowing what resources are available around you, give you tips, and to make you know that you are not alone. However, Nevarez warns that the internet is not the way to diagnose or to treat yourself. This is dangerous since the individual needs to be able to talk to someone and receive guidance.

If there is an urgency to talk to someone, hotlines are there to help you. According the Nevarez, “these will help you to bring your energy level down” and to make sure that you are okay. There are hotlines that operate 24/7 to be available to anyone that needs their help. There are also some hotlines where you will be helped through text. These serve as important functions since they are always there to

There is help out there, chicas. You do not have to go through this alone. The best option will vary between individuals, but they have one thing in common: they acknowledged that they need help.

Not sure where to start? Below is a list of resources from Celeste Nevarez that you might want to use:

Websites: www.speakyourmindtexas.org
www.bevocalspeakup.com
http://projecturok.org
www.netsmartz.org

Hotlines
Crisis Call Center
800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week
http://crisiscallcenter.org/crisisservices.html

National Suicide Hotline
800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
800-422-HOPE (4673)
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week
http://www.hopeline.com

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
800-273-TALK (8255)
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week
http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Thursday’s Child National Youth Advocacy Hotline
800-USA-KIDS (800-872-5437)
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week
http://www.thursdayschild.org

National Institute of Mental Health Information Center
866-615-6464
8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST, Monday to Friday
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml

National Mental Health Association Hotline
800-273-TALK(8255)
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week
http://www.nmha.org

Bullying Support and Suicide Prevention
(855) 581-811 (24/7) or text TALK to 85511 (4-8P.M. everyday)
Chat is available Monday-Thursday from 7:30 P.M.-12:00 A.M.
http://www.yourlifeiowa.org

5 Things You Learn In a Crowded Home

Families are complicated and living situations vary from one household to another. Latinos are typically associated with strong family values. Familismo is a term used to describe how Latino culture values the importance of immediate and extended family ties. Among many Latino families, it is common to have a big family with several extended family members and multiple generations living under one roof. Latinitas shared what they learned from having large families living in a crowded home.

1. Being Selfish Does Not Fly
“I learned to be happy with what I got because I didn’t really have the luxury to be picky in terms of the clothes that I wore. Like I’ve never really been ashamed or embarrassed about family and friends giving me hand-me-downs because I wasn’t going to ask my mom to take me shopping,” shared Kimberly Cabral, age 21 who grew up with five siblings and her parents under one two-bedroom roof.

2. You Were Brought Up To Be Close With Your Family
“I got to bond a lot with my family since it was a lot of us in a small space (in two bedrooms until her father made a third room). I think it helped me appreciate my family more when I moved out,” added Kimberly.

“There was never a dull moment because (as a kid) I could be inside playing video games and if I got bored I could go outside and join my cousins would be playing in the front yard. Everybody was just doing their own thing and were willing to include you,” said Angie Dominguez, age 23 who lived with extended family members, all eight of them in a four bedroom house.

3. There Has Not Been A Moment Where You Felt Alone

“There is just so much support I feel. If you need someone to lend you money or like talk to, someone is always there to give you any type of support that you need. You always have people watching out for you,” said Desirae Nicole Gomez, age 16 who lived with up to 15 people at once in a five bedroom house.

“You won’t ever get lonely. Like I don’t live with my parents anymore and where I live now there are only three people living there and it makes you feel a little crazy when you’ve had the house to yourself a couple of hours,” shared Kimberly.

“Even when we were going through rough times, it was easy to find happiness and turn to each other for that comfort or even a laugh,” said Christa Samaniego, age 34, who lived with up to 17 other people at once in a five bedroom house.

4. You Were Always Encouraged To Help Out
“It gave me a lot of responsibility. As soon as I got a job, my mom expected me to help out with the bills since it was six of us (kids) and our utility bills were not cheap,” added Kimberly.

“My mom worked a lot and because of that I had to babysit my four younger siblings a lot,” said Angie.

5. You Can Be Productive In A Chaotic Environment
“When I had homework in high school I got used to doing it while babysitting. I have become quite good at multi-tasking,” added Angie.

“It is hard sometimes trying to get my homework done if the kids are being rowdy ,but for the most part I am used to it and I notice it helps me balance life when things get busy,” shared Debbie Sifuentes age 23, who lives with 5 other people in a three bedroom apartment.

My Mom is Special

Latinitas share why their moms are special.

“My mom is special to me because she has been my best friend throughout my life. She is a strong woman and caring to my two brother and I. She is a very funny person and you can always count on her to trust your deepest secrets. She will always try her best to help and guide you to the right path. I love my mom with all my heart and I am sure I would be lost without her. Her name is Maria Luisa, but her friends call her Malicha. I can tell you that she is always smiling and having fun. As a regular mom, she has had her battles in life. She is always pushing herself for better opportunities and looking for the best way to educate us. She is my Super Women and I want to have the same spirit as she has. I own her tons! I know that I haven’t been an easy daughter, but she has been my best friend, partner in crime and my teacher thoughout my school years.” -Ariadne Venegas

 

“The most influential person in my life is definitely my mother. Growing up she always set an example of independence and what it meant to do things on her own without a husband. I remember seeing her come home from work when I was young. Even when she was very tired, she would kick off her heels and join me on the couch to watch movies and catch up on how our day went. She made me believe that everything was possible, being a great mother and having a career. I remember daydreaming of the day that I would be able to work and go to college, the very situation I am currently in. Seeing her busy and always having something to do was something that I always admired. The most important thing that I admire about my mother is her honesty. She never strays away from those hard questions that would reveal something about her not being a “perfect” mom. I think that all of those hard stories she told me about her personal life to answer my “life questions” definitely molded me.  My mother’s honesty is something that I have. I’ve always had an unfiltered way of looking at the world. It has helped me communicate better and ultimately it is responsible for my choice to stay in the communications field.” – Jackeline Gomez

 

“I want to say I am so grateful with God for giving me the best mom that I could have. My mom has always been there for me even in my worst moments where I have felt so sad and I just go up to her and cry. She is always there to hug me and comfort me. She always talks to me for a long time and always lets me know how much she loves me no matter what. I am really very thankful with God because he is so good to me that he gave me my family that is the greatest gift I have. I can remember that my mom has always been there with me in my good moments and bad ones too. When I was little, I remember she would always go and volunteer with my pre-k teacher to go to the field trips we had. I have so many memories with my mom of when I was a little girl. When I look at the pictures I have with my mom on family vacations, I always smile. I will always cherish the moments I have with my mom. I don’t know what in the world I would do without my mom. I think I would feel a big emptiness because she has a very special place in my heart. I know of all the struggles she has been through, but she is very strong and still keeps her smile. I have seen her cry and it breaks my heart to see her sad. Every time she cries, I end up crying too. I always tell her that the problems and bad situations in our life are not forever. Everything has a solution in this life. She has done so much for me, she takes me to school whenever she can. She always cares for me and my little sister and brother. I would never let anybody hurt or talk bad about my mom or my family. I also have videotapes that my mom recorded when me and my brother where little, she loved to record every single moment she had with us and we have so many pictures together. My mom is always giving me advice  and is always there when I feel confused, sad or mad. I love to spend time with my mom. Whenever I don’t have something to do, we go to eat together, shopping or to watch a movie.” -Vanessa Ramirez

Find Your Perfect Career

Changing a career path is quite normal, and for Melissa Sanchez, her story of following her dream is one example that resonates with many young professionals.

Melissa Sanchez was a paralegal for ten years and it wasn’t until her experience with Bossed Up, an organization that provides a holistic approach to professional development, that inspired her to open up her own business, Belle Bayou Dessert Catering, in Houston, TX.

As a Latina, sometimes one undergoes the pressure from parents to follow a certain career path, but according to Sanchez it is crucial to follow your heart. Sanchez has always done dessert catering in some capacity, but it wasn’t until recently that she took this full-time leap and opened up her own catering business.

At the age of 32, Sanchez realized she didn’t want to continue on the law school path. “Your parents will want you to have a job that makes you the most money possible, and that is understandable. Most of our families came to the United States to escape poverty and struggle daily to make ends meet – this was my family as well. They want our lives to be easier than theirs are.  But from my own experience, I can tell you that having a high-paid job does not necessarily make you happier.  It isn’t easy to go against your family’s wishes, but at the end of the day, it’s your life and you have to stand up for your own happiness – you deserve to be happy,” stated Sanchez.

According to Jonathan Clements, author of Jonathan Clements Money Guide 2015, “If possible, never work just for a paycheck. I believe the keys to a fulfilling life are spending our days doing what we’re passionate about and our evenings with friends and family.”

Ultimately, what one wants out of a job is up to each individual, but being happy is so intrinsic to one’s well being and a career plays a big part of that. It doesn’t matter how old you are, life is about trying out new things and making a set of goals that will put you on a path to success.

When you’re young it’s also easier to switch jobs more often. According to Ladders.com, “Job seekers in their 20s are long on enthusiasm and education but short on experience. Family and financial responsibilities tend to be limited, so it’s a good time to take chances. It’s also a period during which you can take some time to figure out the ways in which your talents and skills can best be applied.”

It is okay to have different jobs, especially when you’re young, because that is not only how you learn what you want in a career, but it is how you will grow professionally and personally as well.

According to Melissa, her advice for all young Latinas is a three-prong process that has given her success: visualization, organization, and association.

  • Visualize Your Dream:
    “Visualize your dream – do you want to start a business?  Want to be a doctor or an engineer?  Have an idea for an app?  Start visualizing your dream and what it looks like – be specific!  When I thought of my business, I imagined what my logo would look like. (And now I have it!)”
  • Research & Create a Plan: 
    “Once you’ve visualized your dream, start organizing and planning. Research what you need to do to make it happen. Write out the big goal and the little goals it will take to get there.  Set a timetable to keep yourself moving towards your dream.”
  • Find Role Models:
    “Last, and very important, associate yourself with people that have done what you want to do and learn as much as they will teach you. Associate yourself with people that are positive and have their own dreams – you will encourage and support each other along the way.”

Following Melissa’s advice may even lead to finding new things about yourself that you never knew existed.

What Feminism Means to Me

During the Latinitas Women’s History Month Blog-a-thon, we asked Latinitas what they think about the topic of feminism. Feminism is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as the  the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. These Latinitas shared their thoughts on what feminism means to them.

Feminism Means Equality
“Feminism to me, is a belief system where you are an advocate for gender equality. Feminism in my life has been played out through me wanting to be seen as “worthy” as men. I feel our society really devalues women and their voice. Being a feminist is wanting a better future, where your daughters and sons do not feel that they have to be forced into a role they are unhappy with just to meet society’s expectations. Feminism to me is wanting to live in a world where you are seen as who you are as a person rather than “just a woman” or a man that does not fit the stereotypical “strong man” role. I think that is important to remember that about half of the world’s people are women, and many of them go through horrendous things, simply because they are a woman. The same thing happens to men who do not meet the profile of a “strong man.” I think feminism is still important today because gender equality is important. People should be treated fairly and unfortunately that is not the case. Girls need to recognize that there is still a lot we are fighting for.” -Jackeline Gomez

Feminism is Still Needed Today
“I absolutely believe feminism is necessary and important in the 21st century and today. There seems to be this really bad stereotype that comes with the word feminism. Although all stereotypes start from something that might have been true at some point, most women are educated and respectful enough to know not to disrespect men because they have the upperhand. The idea behind feminism is to help grow awareness of the unfairness that women are treated with on a day-to-day basis. In order to succeed in doing that, women need to understand that the world has been one way for a long time. Some people are slower to give in to change, especially when they aren’t sure why it is needed in the first place. If feminism weren’t around today, who knows where we would be? We have come such a long way, but we still have so much further to go. Feminism needs to continue for many years to come — and possibly forever — to ensure that women are never treated unfairly again.” – Gissel Gonzalez

Feminism Isn’t Just a Woman’s Issue
“Today, Feminism is seen as a thing of the past, and I haven’t met many Latinas who identify as a feminist. From my point of view, it might be a culture conflict. In the old days, most of the time feminists were predominantly Anglo, but its grown to more than that. Feminism isn’t a woman’s issue, its everyone’s. We are all in the cause together to make it equal for all. Feminism is important for the upcoming generations because women need to keep standing up for their beliefs and rights as human beings. It is being aware of what your true privileges are today.” -Yajanesty Ruano

It is a Movement for Equal Rights
“In my opinion, feminism is the movement to seek equal rights and opportunities for men and women. It is not only employment rights, but in education, political, social and cultural areas. Fighting to have the same right and opportunities is very important because every human being is the same. What feminists do is fight for women’s rights, the right to vote, the right to have a good job, the right to get paid well, the right to be respected, the right to speak up their mind and all the rights women have. Feminism still important today because even though today women have equality in almost everything, there are some things that we need to keep fighting for. For example, we keep seeing that most of the companies have male CEO. It is important to keep fighting to have more opportunities like men do.” – Eunice Miyuki Sanchez Acosta

Remember the Feminists Who Battled for Future Girls
“In this day and age, females are accomplishing more and more in the public arena. However, is important to remember that the freedom women enjoy today in the USA is due to the efforts of past feminism. Without the heroes who battled for our right to vote and to enter the workplace, females living today would be unable to go after their dreams. The past is never dead. Remember feminists like Susan B. Anthony [a suffragette] battled for future girls just like us.” – Mariel

Being a Feminist is For Everyone
“Being a feminism is the most important title that I could ever give myself. I seek to improve the lives of others via the use of equality. I actively believe that everyone, who is qualified, should get the chance to do what they want without feeling constricted by societal norms. Let’s start out by defining this term. Don’t let the fem- suffix fool you, feminism is for everyone. Even though the movement did at first seek to expand on the rights of women (such as the right to vote), modern feminism has emerged to become an egalitarian movement. It seeks for the equality of all the genders. Feminism is important because there is a huge gender bias system currently in place. Women are systematically paid less. Rape victims are constantly being discredited. Men are taught not to be sensitive.  There are so many awful gender stereotypes that we are assigned at birth. It is relevant and I wish that people would stop fighting it so much. Let’s also talk about the common misconceptions about feminism. If a woman wants to be a mother and get married then she is more than allowed to do whatever her heart pleases. Feminists don’t believe in infringing the rights of other women when it comes to making their own decisions.” – Vianey Reyes

Fighting Gender Stereotypes

Love-Hearts-Sweets-Its-Love-Real-Love_artPicture this: a fancy dinner with that special someone. You have the most perfect gift for him. And as soon as you are about to take it out, he says coming up with an elaborate excuse of why he doesn’t have a present for you. Typical. Don’t you love Valentine’s Day?

The former scene portrays the typical gender expectations during Valentine’s Day.  Women are portrayed as the more emotionally- needy gender (that secretly have the highest expectations for the relationship). The general belief is that women should put all of their emotional energy in order to plan a perfect day. In the meantime, men tend to be more aloof, and are always depicted as the ones likely to forget the holiday. Essentially, Valentine’s Day is all about pleasing the women and men are expected to buy elaborate gifts. However, all of these ideas are merely social expectations that have been inculcated by years and years of media and advertising.

Alas, these stereotypes exist in our day-to-day lives, but they are deeply emphasized every year on February 14th. Don’t get me wrong— I love the idea of a day dedicated to our loved ones. The thing is, it’s important to acknowledge that the mainstream celebration of Valentine’s Day is certainly flawed.  Not only does Valentine’s Day promote love through consumerism, but it also serves to hide men and women behind traditional gender roles.

Moreover, Valentine’s Day advertising highlights ads that show women that care a lot about Valentine’s Day. They are often examples of a continuation of stereotypes from another decade.  Sure, sometimes I understand their goal is to be funny and entertaining, but honestly, it’s not.  Some ads are absurd and serve as a reminder that perhaps the expectations of the1950s subservient housewife have not faded at all. For instance, the article by a professional matchmaker in New York City,  titled “How to Date a Wall Street Man” proves my point.  Her advice is: “…Yes, you should be confident and avoid being a pushover but, at the same time, you shouldn’t be difficult. You need to be accommodating or his schedule and time constraints or he will get frustrated and find another woman.” I found this ridiculous. It’s extremely frustrating to continually keep hearing commentary that assumes all women and all men want the same things. And no, the article is not a joke.

Nowadays, participating in Valentine’s Day has become a social obligation. The pressure of participating in Valentine’s Day starts from a very young age. I recall that growing up,  I used to celebrate Valentine’s Day as Friendship Day in Latin America — it was traditional for children to give out Valentine’s Day cards and candy in their classroom. When I moved to the states, it was evident that the media culture put more pressure on the “love” aspect and having a Valentine.

Unfortunately, as women, we constantly hear that our success is due to our ability to woo men through our sexuality.  Therefore, even though I applaud our journey and progress in gender equality, we have definitely made very little growth in upholding a more realistic idea of gender roles.  So next Valentine’s Day,  I challenge you to look closely at the advertising that you are exposed to.  Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to cancel your romantic dinner plans; all I’m asking is for you to be more mindful of sexist stereotypes because we’re all unique and we can’t possible want the same things or share the same opinions. We have to ask ourselves: are we  living in the 21st century, or in the misogynistic 1950s  era of Mad Men?

Taking the First Step

Stresses of StudyingWritten by Vanessa Aguirre

Everyone has some experience with procrastination. You may have found yourself putting aside homework—or any other projects—to do things like update your Facebook page, chat with friends, or watch Netflix. As high school sophomore Hannah Young said, “I’d rather do things that I like, like watch TV, sleep, or read a book.” Basically, pretty much anything but what you should have been spending your time on. To some, procrastination may be a minor problem, but to others it can be a major source of stress and anxiety. It is common for anyone to be furiously working on a project late into the night, wondering why in the world they started working on the project at the last minute — because a powering through homework fueled only by caffeine all night is not fun.

Why do we procrastinate?
At some point in life, everyone has put off something important in order to do other trivial activities, but procrastination is most common in students. According to the World Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, an estimated 25 to 75 percent of college students procrastinate on academic work . In 2007, a study published in Psychological Bulletin by psychologist Piers Steel found that a grand total of 80 to 95 percent of college students procrastinated on a regular basis, especially regarding school assignments. Despite stress, lack of sleep, and inefficiency, students regularly procrastinate. Why?

One reason is that people, especially students, tend to overestimate how much time they have to perform a task. “I think that I have a lot of time to do something so I can relax for an hour,” Lisa Alvarez, 15, said, “But it ends up becoming longer than that.”

Remember that time it felt like you had a week to do a project when it was really due the next day?

Another factor that leads to procrastination is the mentality that you will be more motivated in the future instead of at the present moment, which means that at moment you don’t have the motivation or the right motivation or mindset to work on anything. People mistakenly believe that in order to work on something they need to be in the right mood.

“I procrastinate because I have no motivation to get [work] done then and there,” Mackenzie Henson, 16, said. Sadly, the truth is that if you wait to get the right frame of mind to work on something, especially something you dread, the task will most likely never get completed. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to go to sleep and wake up to find the task completed– if only!

The negative effects of procrastination
Working on something you don’t want to do can be tiring and annoying, so it can be considered natural to want to delay that as much as possible. In the long-term, procrastination is harmful. Researchers, Dianne M. Tice and Roy F. Baumeister, found in a 2007 study that by the end of a school term, students who procrastinated had higher levels of stress and illness than at the beginning of the school term. Psychologists also reported that the students who procrastinated had lower grades than those who didn’t procrastinate. For example, Lisa Alvarez, 16, said that “my worst experience with procrastination was probably when I did everything I could to not do my homework. So I didn’t do any homework that day, and the next day I was completely lost in school with my classes.”

Procrastination also puts a strain on one’s social life. If you procrastinate regularly, if you constantly turn in projects late or scramble to get them done until the last minute, then friends, family, and coworkers may stop depending on you. Not only does procrastination place a burden on yourself, it places a burden on others!

How to stop procrastinating
While there’s nothing wrong with procrastinating every once in a while, procrastinating often leads to more harm than good. And the key to stop procrastinating is self-control and managing your time well. Evaluate your priorities—make a list if it helps—and focus on the more important tasks no matter how motivated you are. “I beat procrastination by prioritizing” should be your mantra! Try to reduce the amount of time you spend on things like aimlessly surfing the internet or watching too much tv. Psychology expert Kendra Cherry writes, “A couple hours sifting through junk email, several hours watching television shows that you don’t even like, a few more hours playing games on Facebook—it all adds up quite quickly.”

Remove yourself from any distractions, like electronics, books, people, etc., and work on the task step-by-step. Establishing a schedule also helps. As Hannah Young says, “Try studying in little pieces during the days leading up to the big exam.” Spreading out time dedicated to a project throughout the week will lead to being more relaxed and less stressed.  Knowing that you have most of the work done (if not all of the work) by the time the deadline comes is a huge stress reliever. Plus, the more you manage your time, the more likely you are to find time for your hobbies and much needed rest. Mackenzie Henson adds, “I basically scared myself into doing it. We shouldn’t procrastinate or else we will not be successful in life later.”

This upcoming school year turn off the TV, shut down the computer, and concentrate on finishing any projects that have deadlines quickly approaching. You’ll feel a sense of relief, and feel much better!

Being Involved

picture for volunteer pageWritten by Priscilla Moctezuma

High school is a time for college applications and making the best of your teen years. The best college applications are those that are filled with extracurricular and volunteer experiences, but what should you do if being shy has stopped you you from being involved and, now, you don’t know where to start?

What it Means to Be Involved
To be involved means to join the athletics team, choir ensemble, marching band, and/or even being a volunteer at your school. The first step in getting involved is to know where to sign-up. The easiest way is to speak to your grade counselor and ask him/her what the school offers.  Whether you are trying to see if the school has something you love or are trying to figure out what the school offers, find it in yourself to BELIEVE that everything will work out for the best. Some extracurricular activities mean signing-up and showing up (super easy!), but others ask participants to try out in order to join the team. Most schools offer debate, dance, art, choir, band, and sports as their main after school clubs, but you might find a hidden gem, like a book, robotics, or even math club, that will spark something within you and make you come of your shell.

If joining a club does not fit your schedule or you want to participate in an event with fewer people, try volunteering. Volunteering at school or within your community can be just as rewarding as joining an after school club. Helping your community will lead to learning more about yourself and how you can impact another person’s life.

Volunteering is also a great way to boost your college application because it shows that you have learned and applied several skills that will prepare you for college. The college application says more than just your first and last name. It will show that you are team player, caring, self determined.  These skills are developed over time, and being involved gives you the experience you need to boost your social skills and college applications. Volunteering in a place that you know best, like a church, is a good place to start!

Being Involved Boosts Your Social Skills
Whether you are in an after school club or you are volunteering at the local homeless shelter, being involved will help you figure out your weaknesses and strengths. Most importantly, it can boost your social skills – like how to be a leader, working well with others, public speaking, networking, etc. Social skills can be tough if you’re shy, but working with likeminded people helps create a positive, safe environment where you can practice your social skills.  Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but breaking out of your shell can happen with baby steps. First, be active and join a club or find a volunteer opportunity! Then, listen and get to know your peers. Opening up can be difficult, but you can start small by asking questions about school and their interests. Once you surround yourself with a group of people who share the same interest(s), you tend to develop strong bonds/friendships– being shy turns into a thing of the past.

To be involved in school is a good thing! Plus, it will help develop your social skills, looks great on college applications, and it’s rewarding. Once you figure out what you are good at, go with it and stay involved. I was once a shy little girl, but everything changed once I took a choir class in middle school. Whatever you are passionate about, stay involved, get to know your peers, and build on that long term friendship. Don’t be shy and say hi.

Media Representations of Latinas

Latinos make up approximately 17% of the U.S. population, according to the 2012 U.S. Census report, contributing to 50% of the U.S. population growth between the years 2000 and 2010.  On the big screen, however, Latino roles are rare and far between, and when they do appear, characters are often limited to narrow stereotypes. According to a recent report released entitled “The Latino Media Gap: A Report on the State of Latinos in U.S. Media,” representation of Latinos has even decreased over the decades, with Latinos being more represented in media in the 1950s, when they were only 2.8% of the population, than they are today.

Of the few Latinos that do come out in television and movies, they are portrayed with the same, stereotypical roles time and time again. A popular trend for Latina women in entertainment media is to be placed as the role of the sexy, seductive woman. The report, “Race/Ethnicity in 600 Popular Films: Examining On Screen Portrayals and Behind the Camera Diversity,” states that of over 600 popular U.S. films reviewed, 37.5% of Latina roles were shown to be partially or fully naked, the highest percentage of any other race/ethnicity. Latino men were also found to be the most likely to be wearing “tight, alluring, or revealing” clothing out of any other race/ethnicity of men portrayed in films.

1004479_308531572625386_1478746460_nConstantly being surrounded by these images can affect the way young Latina girls are viewed by those around her, and, in turn, how she views herself. Raised in a Latino neighborhood in New Jersey, Kimberly, 18, shares, “Growing up in a predominantly Latin American environment, I’ve both experienced and witnessed the detrimental effect that the over-sexualization of Latinas in the media has on young Latinas. It’s an insidious and subtle effect that reveals itself in the ways young Latinas are treated by their peers.” Being shown in media as sexual objects, and constantly described by terms like “sexy”, “sassy”, or “exotic”, creates a confining box for what young Latinas are expected to look or behave like, and holds them to inaccurate standards by those around her.

In the 2013 report, “Global Box Office Hits Record in 2012 as Hispanic Attendance Grows in U.S.,” Latinos were found to purchase 25% of all movie tickets in the U.S., showing just how highly the entertainment media intake in this nation is for Latinos. This much media intake means a high level of exposure to the stereotypical roles presented in films and television.  The result of this can be negative for young Latina girls and influence what they see the public perceives of them. Kimberly stresses, “The psychological backlash is often crippling, resulting in a lack of confidence in her intelligence or a sense that her body is more important than what she has to say. We agree that this is dangerous to all young women, but when these statistics show how targeted this over sexualization is, well then, it becomes clear that this specific problem needs to be addressed.”

When looking at the 2010 U.S. Census, only 44.3% of Latina women fill the occupation of a maid, yet 69% of Latinas in media play the role of maids, the report states. Even further, the representation of creative occupations, such as dancers, musicians, and writers, are filled by 9% of Latinos, according to the census, yet are only portrayed as so by less than 1% of Latinos in media. High school student Natalia, 17, shares, “As a strong and independent, young Hispanic woman… the stereotype of Latinas being portrayed as “sexy” or “house maids” in the media is a feeling of being demeaned because of my personal values and how I carry myself.” While there is nothing wrong with these titles, limiting Latinas to these few roles at such a grand scale ignores the truly diverse definition of what it means to be Latina, and the wide range of interests and capabilities of Latina women.  Gladys, 17, urges, “there are other aspects where Latinas should be recognized, including in the news business, or as great lawyers, doctors, etc.”

 

To even further the problem, Latinos make up a very small percent of those contributing to the behind the scenes production, including positions as writers, producers, and directors. In 2013, Latinos made up only 5.2% of writing positions, 2.1% of producers, and 2.7% of director positions, according to the Latino Media Gap report. “The vast majority of all fundamental media decisions are made by affluent, middle-aged, white men,” the Latino Media Gap report states. With such little representation behind the scenes, the stories of Latinas and their realities are not being accurately told.

 

The matter becomes even worse when extending our view to news media as well. According to this same report, as of 2013, less than 1% of the stories covered on popular new stations are Latino related, and of that 1%,  66% of those stories are focused on crime, terrorism, and illegal immigration, showing Latinos in a negative light. This limiting portrayal in entertainment and news media can have highly negative effects on Latinas, and how the public views our potential to expand beyond these stereotypes. The message should be sent out to the heads of media to look beyond the common stereotypes to the greater depth Latinas have as individuals. Latinas are intelligent, diverse, and capable women, and deserve to be represented as such!

 

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