Living on the Border

Laredo_Border_Crossing_25Living in a border city has perks unique to its citizens. Growing up in a city where Hispanic culture is the majority and the norm, makes for a very comfortable and connected life in the community. Ideas and traditions are generally accepted across the board because people have very similar backgrounds. Whereas speaking Spanish in another part of the country is an exceptionally valuable and marketable tool, it is just another part of living in a border city. The Spanish language is not an exception, but, almost like a form of currency, the more you know, the more you have access to the culture and the people that surround you. The border city examined in this article is Laredo, Texas. Located on the southwest border of Texas and Mexico, it houses one of the largest import sites in the nation. Visiting Mexico from Laredo is easy, just a fifteen minute drive down the highway and you have access to another country. Along with foreign goods, the Mexican culture transcends the border and infiltrates the city, and for this reason living in Laredo is truly a unique upbringing.

Leaving a Border City

Leaving the comfort of a city where most of your friends and peers have easily relatable backgrounds can be quite the experience. Trinity University student and Neuroscience major, Alyssa Izquierdo, shares what it is like to leave  Laredo and attend school in San Antonio, Texas. “Being right next to Mexico, you [notice] how easy it is for Mexicans to assimilate to Laredoan culture. It is a catholic majority… the culture is mexican, my family is all mexican,” she says. Establishing a circle of friends at Trinity University who vary in ethnicity and culture, she realized that speaking Spanish became an exceptional ability, one that she was grateful for. Surrounded by people taking Spanish language classes, she realized that the culture of her hometown was something not to be taken for granted.

Sharing Your Culture

On her thoughts about being an American of Mexican descent outside of Laredo: “I think living in a border city has helped me communicate better with the hispanic community- as in carrying a conversation with someone in Spanish. It has also helped me realize the opportunities that people have when they cross. I am grateful for having been born in the United States. [It] helps me see how lucky I am.”

Essentially, the culture that makes you unique is something to be cherished and never to be taken for granted. If you have the privilege of growing up surrounded by those with a familiar culture, take advantage of it, because it may not apply in other parts of the United States. On the flipside, embrace your culture in a diverse environment- you can start with showing off your mother’s wonderful enchilada recipe by sharing your home cooked meals with others.

Advice: Job Hunting

now-hiring-signIt is absolutely horrible, it really is. It is hard and, let’s be honest, really tedious. No one wants to fill out application after application and have to buy 37 ink cartridges for the printer because you’re printing out 4507315435 copies of your resume. That being said, jobs are necessary. You can’t get away from it, but there are ways to make your life easier during the job hunt. Here are tips for job hunting, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

1.     Make sure you have a really good résumé.
Every career driven girl knows that a resume is the most important thing. Employers ask for a résumé all the time, so it’s really helpful to have one on file at all times. Make sure that you have your résumé updated so that it includes all your recent accomplishments, jobs, volunteer positions as well as current personal information.

Nothing looks more unprofessional than having typos and incorrect grammar on a résumé. After using spell check on your computer, have your parents or a teacher look it over. If you’re a college student, you can take your résumé to your university’s career center — an office that helps students with free career and interview advice.

2.  Apply everywhere.
Many upper-level jobs require some type of previous experience, and it is incredibly difficult to get a job like that without it. Now is a good time to get a head start. While it won’t sound too glamorous to say that you’re a sandwich artist at Subway, it will help you when you’re trying to get that job as an assistant chef at a classy restaurant down the line. Even if it’s not your dream job, you will pick up skills to boost your résumé and help you land your dream job in the future. For potential employment opportunities, look in your local newspapers employment section or visit websites like Monster.com and Indeed.com. Word of mouth can also be helpful, so ask your friends and teachers if they know of any job openings.

Jasmine Hansberry,19, recommends that girls try to apply to jobs that are closely related to what they are good at. ”If you are good at certain things, go after a job that you know you can work at and get promoted. For example, if you are good at talking to new people try customer service.”

Even though you are applying at several places at once, chances are you might not receive a follow-up e-mail or interview from each application. The more you apply means the greater your chances are of landing a job.

“I applied to a lot of places during the winter break and only one place called me back, but I ended up getting that job,” shares Marlett Mojica, 19.

Playing the waiting game can be stressful, but while you’re waiting make sure you practice for the next step in the job hunt: the interview.

3.     Make sure you’ve practiced for an interview.
 This is a biggie. Not only will it keep you calm but it’ll help you practice answering difficult questions like why do you want to work there and what you can contribute to the company.”Make sure you are friendly during the interview. Be nice and don’t be rude. Make sure you are honest in the interview and tell the truth… [and] say thank you for this interview at the end, ” shares Marlett.

It usually helps to have a parent, teacher or someone with a job help you practice your interviewing skills. When you get an interview, you need to make sure you are dressed professionally and be very respectful and positive during the interview.

4.     Make sure you play up your skills and talents.
 Ask your family and friends to share what they think are your biggest skills as a starting point. Are you a good writer, working with children, and meeting new people? Think about any awards you’ve won, any leadership roles you’ve held in student organizations, or any volunteer experience you have. You can use this to create a list of skills and talents to add to your résumé or mention in an interview. There isn’t anything bad with bragging about what you’re good at.  It makes you seem confident and it helps convince potential employers that you’d be really good at helping them.  Be careful though, don’t overplay it because you may run the risk of seeming cocky. Also, and this is a biggie, don’t say you have a skill you really don’t have because it can backfire.

Jasmine encourages girls to have confidence and not be afraid to step up and take the initiative to follow-up with a job application. “If there is a certain job you like, make the effort to call them. A lot of bosses will think that you really want this job and that they should give you a chance.”

Finding a job can be difficult, but always keep your head up. ”Even though it may seem hard, don’t quit. Give yourself a chance and you will find a job,” reminds Marlett.

Latina Spotlight: Cadet Jessica Soto

Photo Credit: http://www.elpasotimes.com

Photo Credit: http://www.elpasotimes.com

She is a fighter, a believer, a college athlete, an Army Cadet, and she is a Latina.  She is one of the few to take on a journey that most, if not all, would consider to be rare and irrational.

Cadet Jessica Soto was born on April 29, 1995 in El Paso, Texas. She grew up in the small town of San Elizario, Texas where she developed into the multi-talented young lady that she is now.  Growing up she dodged all the negativity that was thrown at her, which only caused her to become more determined and focused than those around her.

She is one of the few women to have been accepted into one of the nation’s most prestigious military academies known as West Point, which is located in West Point, New York-approximately 50 miles north of New York City on the Hudson River.

West Point Military Academy (USMA) only takes in the nation’s most outstanding students.  Not only do the students have to have exceptional grades to be admitted, but they also select students who are physically fit and have proof of leadership skills.  Students that are accepted into the academy receive fully paid scholarships and a monthly income.  Alex Hinojosa, an El Paso Times journalist,  reported that West Point received about 15,000 applications in 2013, and only 194 of the 1,200 cadets that were accepted were women.

Jess, as her closest friends call her, was one of the two women from El Paso to get admitted. Latinitas sat down with Cadet Soto to learn more about her inspirational story.

Q: What can you tell me about yourself-family, growing up, and achievements?

A: “I was always around boys because I was the youngest of three and I was the only girl.  My parents are very traditional, typical Mexican parents; they have an old school mentality and they always thought I should clean up after my brothers, and, of course, I just never had any of it…I grew up around boys, always playing sports and I like to think that it was sports that taught me a lot of what I learned about myself.  It taught me how to be a leader and how to work hard for what I want, to ultimately be the best in anything.  Not saying that I was the best, but that was always what I aimed for.  I focused a lot of my time on becoming faster, stronger than anyone because I wanted to get out of here and play elsewhere.  I thought sports were my only way out, which is why I tried my best in school, to sell myself to colleges and universities.  I’d like to say that my biggest accomplishment has been an impact on younger girls that I played with, having someone look up to you and try to emulate you is…priceless.”

Q: At what point in your life did you decide that West Point was for you?

A: ”There came a point in my high school career when I realized that I didn’t want to play in college.  I loved sports, but it became more of a job to me because of the people around me who EXPECTED me to play D1 .  I read a book called “Battle Dress” by Amy Efaw and it was based on a girl’s experience of being a cadet in basic training at West Point.  Two weeks later, one of my teachers had a presentation about West Point and, as a second semester Junior, it became important to me to begin the application process.  At first I only applied because [after] hearing how hard it was to get in I became curious to know if I was good enough to go there.  As I became more engulfed, I realized West Point was the perfect place for me.  Soon enough, no other school compared to West Point so I didn’t apply anywhere else.”

Q: What was your reaction when you read the acceptance letter?

A: ”It took me a long time to receive my appointment because of my asthma. I was medically disqualified for months.  It took so many doctor visits and pulmonary exams to finally get a waiver.  The state senator denied me a nomination and you need one to even be considered as a candidate, but Reyes gave it to me before he left office.  When I finally got it, I was the happiest in the world!  I felt like all the weight was off my shoulders and all that stress had finally paid off.  I still remember the exact date, April 16, 2013.”

Q: What was going through your head when you had to say goodbye to your loved ones?

A: “I was so scared.  I began questioning if I had what it takes to make it through there.  My volleyball coach told me the day I left, ‘Don’t you dare come back here without a diploma in your hand.  You owe it to these girls that look up to you and this community that has given you everything.’  I just didn’t want to let anyone down, but I was excited and focused.  I felt ready to take on anything that would get thrown at me, the same way I took on any other challenge I had ever faced before… with a strong mind, leaving it all in God’s hands.”

Q: What challenges have you faced since your arrival at West Point, and are there any other Latinas that attend as well?

A: “I got made fun of for lacking military knowledge, and my accent was also made fun of.  People were very ignorant about my Latin culture.  I struggled academically; being a woman in an institution [whose population is] 14% women is hard.  We are objectified even though they advocate equality.  The profession itself is tough for women.  I had two major surgeries in one semester because of rugby.  There are few Latinas there, but they aren’t as culturally sound as I am.  They didn’t grow up in a border town, some don’t even speak a hint of Spanish, and if they do it’s very broken.”

Q: What advice do you give to young Latinas?

A: “My advice would be to have no limits, you have a dream, you go out, and you make it a reality.  There will always be people who will tell you that it is out of your reach, but no one can set limits as to what you can accomplish but yourself.  Step outside of your comfort zone, that’s where the magic happens.  It takes courage to stand up for yourself, to go out and do it.  Sometimes even those closest to you will think it’s impossible, but if you have the right intentions and the Lord sees it fit and if you work hard and never settle, then there is no saying what you cannot accomplish.  Once you accomplish that then you make a new goal, the key is to never be content with yourself or be complacent.  Never let your gender or race be a setback, embrace it and use it as a motivator.”

Cadet Soto is the perfect example of the American Dream. She broke both gender and cultural barriers in one of the most tedious professions, and was admitted to a highly prestigious school rare to women.  Jessica Soto is proof that if you’re passionate and determined enough, your dreams will become a reality.  She is an inspiration to not only Latinas but women in general looking to protect the country they call home.

Beat the Heat: Summer Recipes

Photo Credit: luxuryhousingtrends.com

Photo Credit: luxuryhousingtrends.com

Summer vacation is the perfect time to try out new cool recipes in order to beat the heat. Since we don’t want to turn on our ovens for that, here are some cool recipes to try that can help you beat the heat, not turn it up.

Mango Lassi

This is a type of smoothie recommended by Buzzfeed.com! This delicious smoothie can be made at any time of day. The ingredients consist of 1 mango, 3/4 cups of cold milk, 3 tablespoons of cold plain yogurt, 3 tablespoons of honey, 1 pinch of salt, 1 handful of crushed ice and 1 sprig of fresh mint.

Step 1: Take the mango and peel it. Try to get all the skin off of the mango. If you can’t, then it’s fine.

Step 2: Put all the other ingredients (including the mango) into the blender and turn on the blender for 20-30 seconds.

Step 3: Enjoy. If it is still too thick, feel free to add more milk. You can also add honey or yogurt if you feel it’s necessary, you can use your own judgment here.

 Ceviche

Here is an interesting take on ceviche, from Fod52.com, in more ways than one. Not only does it not require an oven, but it also includes watermelon as one of the ingredients. That’s right, watermelon. While it may seem strange, watermelon actually goes quite well with this dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 pounds fresh mild fish, such as striped bass, swordfish, or halibut
  • limes (just under 1 cup of juice)
  • 1/4 cup purple onion (or vidalia), chopped
  • jalapeño pepper, chopped finely (more or less to taste)
  • 1.5 cups of fresh tomato, chopped into cubes about 1/4″ or a bit bigger
  • 1.5 cups cucumber, chopped into cubes about 1/4″ or a bit bigger
  • cup watermelon, chopped into cubes about 1/4″ or a bit bigger
  • tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Step 1: Cut the fish into cubes that are about 3/4 of an inch on each side. Then, mix them into a bowl with the lime juice, onion, pepper and salt. Then, put the mixture into the refrigerator for 15 minutes to cure, stirring every five minutes.

Step 2: During cure time, take another bowl and mix the cucumber, watermelon, cilantro, oil, salt and pepper. Mix gently but mix well.

Step 3: Once the fish is cured (the fish should look “cooked”), pour the lime/fish mixture into a final serving bowl. You may “hold back” some of the lime juice if the amount is excessive. You can cure the fish for longer than the 15 minutes if you feel it is necessary.

Step 4: Lastly, pour the tomato mixture over the fish and mix well. Serve immediately.

Honeydew and Peppedew Gazpacho

Put some of that produce to good use and make Gazpacho for friends and family. Serves 4-6 and this recipe is done with a food processor.

Ingredients: 

  • large English cucumber, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • red bell peppers, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • peppadew peppers, drained
  • large tomatoes, cored, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/2 red onion, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/3 of a large honeydew melon, seeded, peeled, and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • cloves garlic, minced
  • 46-oz bottle of low-sodium vegetable juice
  • Several tea spoons of olive oil
  • Several glugs of sherry vinegar
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Step 1: Take each type of produce and put them in your food processor separately — this step is important, as they won’t come out the same if they’re in together– until the pieces are very fine.

Step 2: Once you have processed each one, put everything into the largest bowl you can find. If you have not added the garlic, you should do so at this point.

Step 3: Stir the mixture together thoroughly, cover with plastic and let sit in the fridge. Stirring occasionally. The gazpacho is best after it has sat in the fridge for a very long amount of time  – so the longer the time in the fridge, the better. Which makes it great if you won’t have time in the evening to prepare dinner.

Popsicles

 Last but not least, is everyone’s favorite summer treat, popsicles! This is a pretty traditional recipe that never gets old and has lots of room for creativity.

Step 1: fill ice trays or popsicle trays with juice (for something really experimental, add gummy bears to the juice) and stick trays in the freezer

Step 2: Let sit until frozen solid.

Step 3: Enjoy your summer popsicles!

Whether you’re looking for a snack or an idea for dinner, these summer recipes are bound to make your tastebuds dance with delight.

Culture Shock

Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com

Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com

Have you ever moved to a different place? Have you ever gone somewhere new and felt like you do not belong? Have you ever had a feeling that everyone around you is different than you and that it  is something you cannot control? This is culture shock. Culture shock hits people in the most unexpected of ways.

You might be used to living in a place where everyone goes to football games every Friday night, and be shocked to move to a place where people go to more soccer games instead. Maybe you come from a place where there are Mexican restaurants around every corner, and be shocked to go somewhere where there are Asian food restaurants instead. And there is nothing wrong with all of this. However, it is ok if you find difficulty handling all of this. But facing these changes should not scare you.

Embrace the Change
Change is good. Moving to a new place is true learning experience where you do not only learn about a new culture but learn about yourself as well. Do not be afraid to throw all of yourself into this new place and everything it has to offer. Maira Zapata, a fourth year Latin American Studies student went through this experience. Coming from the Rio Grande Valley, she says everything she knew was “tacos in every corner.” When she got to college however, she met “all sorts of people.” According to Maira, meeting people from places all around the world was what encouraged her to study abroad in China during the 2013 Spring semester.

For example, if you are from an area where everyone goes to the island every weekend, do not be afraid to go to a country restaurant everyone goes to on the weekends and try line dancing, or singing country music. Trying new things will help reduce and possibly eliminate your culture shock. You should not be ashamed to have never been exposed to these news things. There will be different cultures within every city, state, and country you go to. That is what makes the world so interesting. Imagine if everyone liked the same things and did everything the same way. We would never accomplish anything! Life would be boring! Culture shock allows you to embrace new cultures.

While everything will be different at first, take it as an opportunity to learn something new. Reach out to new people or places throughout a city that you never pictures yourself visiting. If you find that your are vacationing or at traveling somewhere, ask questions! Your doubts will only leave you with more questions and more of a “shock.”

For myself, moving to a big city after living in a border town for years resulted in me having issues adjusting and facing tremendous culture shock. I was not used to seeing and interacting with people who did not know Spanish or did not look at me. Before I started college I had never traveled past Corpus Christi, Texas. I After starting college, I felt as if I was finally let out of the bubble I was living. Going off to college is already a shock in itself. But with patience, openness, and willingness to accept and do new things, the change in your surroundings will be a breeze.

The Big Move: Living with a Roommate

Photo Credit: Studentuniverse.com

Photo Credit: Studentuniverse.com

The fall semester is around the corner, and many nervous college freshmen are anxiously waiting to take the next big step of moving away for college.Whether you’ve shared a room at home or will be sharing for the first time this upcoming fall semester, transitioning to living with a roommate is a big change that requires some adjusting of your daily routine, maturity, and ability to compromise.

What to expect if you’re rooming random

Moving away from home is a big step, and, most likely, you might be moving to a college with little to no friends or family close by. Every college has a “roommate matching” process, which is an automatic system that pairs you up with another student living in your dorm based on a questionnaire. This assigned roommate might be in your same year, and most schools will ask you about grade level, how late you stay up and how early you go to bed, your social activity (how likely you are to bring guests, if you’re thinking about pledging greek life, etc.), and your preferred room temperature (for dorms that have their own thermostat in each room). The system will then “consider” these factors during the matching process. However, you are not guaranteed to end up with someone who answered these questions the same as you. You also have the option to put a “roommate preference”, but, again, it’s not guaranteed you will end up with someone you prefer. However, there are ways to room random that will make for an okay living situation.

Having an assigned roommate is a learning experience. Be prepared to adjust to living with a completely different personality. The system may think that you two are compatible, but sometimes personalities will clash. When rooming with someone you have never met or know, it can be difficult to decide which issues are meant to be further addressed and which are not issues at all.

“I used the roommate finder [for my school] and met a girl,”22 year old Brittany Golden said. “We hung out a few times to make sure we were compatible.”

Some may not as lucky as Brittany, and there are a fair share of roommate horror stories out there. Don’t be afraid, not all random roommate situations turn out bad. One useful thing to know about rooming random is to try to understand the other person’s point of view. For example, if your roommate does something you consider unethical or rude, your roommate may not even see it as a problem. With that being said, if it really is a big issue, it’s important to let your roommate know in a way that it does not appear you are attacking her.

Establishing boundaries with a roommate

When sharing a room with someone else you’re bound to have some conflict because, even though you’re no longer with your parents, you are still living with someone else’s standards and boundaries. It’s important for you and your roommate to establish boundaries in order to avoid conflict in the future. For example, if you are absolutely not okay with friends staying the night in your room, it is important to let your roommate know instead of waiting for the day you come home to a stranger three feet from your bed. Yikes!

“We made list of things we liked and disliked,” Golden said. “We’re still friends today.”

When you establish boundaries you will also need to be ready to make compromises. For example, if you love staying up late and blasting your music, chances are you will need to turn it down. Not only will it annoy your roommate, unless you both like to do this, but in a dorm it will lead to noise complaints and be paid a not-so-lovely visit from your RA (Resident Assistant). The key to a successful living arrangement with anyone is communication, but there will be times when boundaries and compromise are not enough to avoid conflict.

Handling conflict with a roommate

Pick and choose your battles. Ask yourself: “Is the issue I’m having effecting the both of us or effecting me in a big way? Is it in compliance with housing policies?” These are important things to consider before confronting your roommate. While it’s important to be an adult and confront an issue, it’s also important to make sure the issue is really an issue before having heated discussions with your roommate.

Using the “It’s ‘we’ not ‘you’” statement can help resolve conflict. For example, if your roommate is leaving their laundry everywhere, saying something like: “It’s important that we respect each other and the room in compliance with housing policies and maintain its cleanliness and odor” sounds less defensive than saying “You’re a disgusting slob! Pick up your mess!” When phrased with a “we” attitude, it addresses that you have an issue, but in a way that the benefit of fixing the issue is not just for you, but for the both of you. Highlighting mutual benefits can be a great way to help your roommate see how something can be a problem.

Living with a roommate is a learning experience, but, in the end, you’ll find out more about yourself. You might even wind up becoming best friends with your new roomie!

Leading Latina: Melody Gonzales

Photo Credit: http://www.linkedin.com/in/melodygonzales

Photo Credit: Melody Gonzales

Melody Gonzales is the Presidential Appointments Program Director for the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), a coalition of 36 of the pre-eminent Latino civil rights, non-profit and advocacy organizations in the nation. Originally from San Diego, CA, Melody attended the University of California San Diego.

When she was growing up, she knew that she always wanted to work in a field where she could help make a difference for her community and one of her biggest obstacles in college was figuring out how to accomplish that goal.

“One day…I saw a flyer on a bulletin board on campus about the Asian American Journalism Association’s summer program for journalism students. I applied for their program and spent an amazing week in Chicago being mentored and trained by professional journalists. I went on to participate in similar trainings with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and doors opened for me to gain wonderful internships in the news industry,” said Melody.

It was programs such as these, the exposure to the field of communications, and to people working hard to lift up social issues which led her to a key turning point that helped place her on her public service career path.

After graduating from the University of California San Diego, Melody spent two years working in San Diego with the local NBC news affiliate as a news writer and with the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce, helping manage a leadership program for local community leaders. She also worked for the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau as General Manager, promoting tourism for San Diego. While she loved the work she was involved with, Melody became intrigued with the idea of going to graduate school when she was in D.C. and came across a brochure that described Georgetown University’s Master of Public Policy program as “a program for do-gooders.”

Melody became more and more excited as she read about the faculty members and students who were working in the nation’s capital as agents of change in all sorts of fields. She took a risk and put all of her eggs in one basket, applied for Georgetown’s graduate program in policy and was thrilled to have been accepted. At Georgetown she focused her studies on international policy development, had exposure to world leaders, and was able to study abroad at Oxford University.

During her Master’s program, she was able to conduct a quantitative research thesis on immigration and crime to help debunk the myth that immigrants are criminals. It was during her work on this thesis, at a point when immigration reform was being debated in the U.S. Senate and communities were mobilizing with rallies across the nation, that Melody decided she needed to be more directly involved in politics. She went on to work for Congressman Xavier Becerra in the U.S. House of Representatives for six years and for several political campaigns including for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Fast forward to present times, Melody currently works for The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA). NHLA mobilizes to advance key policy priorities that impact the Latino community, such as immigration reform, economic empowerment, and more. She is the director of NHLA’s Latino Appointment Program, which launched in January of 2013. The program is designed to help improve Latino representation in government to ensure our voices and perspectives are integrated in key policy-making positions.

For more information on NHLA, visit http://nationalhispanicleadership.org.

Review: “I am Malala”

80ba698508f76288e82c306520908022In “I am Malala” by Mala Yousafzai, we journey through the story of Malala.  Malala, a young girl born in Pakistan where educated women are rare, grows up with an understanding of how the power of raising our voices, words and education can change the world.

The book is inspirational right from the beginning with the story of Malala’s father,  Ziauddin. Her father, despite his upbringing in poverty, manages to become an educated man. Through the story of Ziuaddin, we first gain a glimpses to the environment and ideas that will later influence Malala. Unlike many other Pakastani men who are upset when a daughter is born, Ziauddin is proud of having a daughter. He makes sure that she receives the same  treatment as her brothers. He proceeds by refusing to allow the Woma (the celebration of a child’s life in the Pashtun culture) be paid by Baba (Malala’s grandfather) when her brothers are born. Ziauddin knows that an education that promotes independent thinking is nonexistent  in Pakistan, he decides to open a school.  Opening a school is not easy in Pakistan since principals are expected to bribe school officials for registration. This ignites Ziuaddin to speak out on the importance of children being educated and created an organization for principals to gather and fight the restrictions. Despite the adversities to education that are imposed, the Khusal school managed to flourish.

Malala grows up in her father’s school, develops a love for knowledge and, even though she’s a girl, is allowed to listen to politics. When she encounters children ridden in the dumps squandering for food, she realizes that not every child — especially girls– have an opportunity to be educated. Her own mother and aunts are unable to read, write, and share the same view that many Pakastani women share about school: Not seeing the point of going to school since they will end up being mothers and wives. This makes her even more appreciative to have an education, and she promotes a new way to view education as a gateway to change and opportunity.

During this time, Islam was gaining even more importance in the Pakastani society. False interpretations began to emerge, and the bearers of false interpretations of the Qu’ran were the Taliban terrorists who had moved from Afghanistan to Pakistan. Unknowingly, people began to support these terrors. This made Malala and her father realize the necessity of literacy more evident. If more people were literate, they would know about the misinterpretations of the Qu’ran the Taliban were giving. Schools began to be attacked and death threats began to spread with restrictions on how women and men should dress by the Taliban. The first to speak up was Ziauddin, encouraging  more people to speak up, reminding the reader how powerful our voices can be and how they can inspire others to stand up against injustices. During those dark days, students like Malala and her friends took refugee in school; for them, school became a getaway from the darkness the Taliban brought.

Under a pen name, Malala kept an online diary in a blog about living under the Taliban rule enhancing awareness to the problems Pakistan was facing. It is here where she realizes, “that the pen and words that come from it can be much more powerful than machine guns, tanks or helicopters. We were learning how to struggle. And we were learning how powerful we are when we speak.” Ultimately, this awareness is what saved her life in the end. “I am Malala” is a book worth reading to gain a greater understanding of world affairs and is a powerful reminder of how we can make a difference.

Summer Styles to Rock All Day

img-thingFor some, the summer means relaxing by the pool and for others it means checking out the latest summer trends. Whether it’s looking for a new outfit or maybe trying a new hairstyle, try out something different this summer.

“This summer there are a lot of interesting patterns and colors blended together,” fashion blogger said Angela Littlefield, Junior at the University of Texas at Austin. “The Tribal Print with neon trend has been popular for a while now, and as a fashion blogger it’s really cool to see how people make use of this trend rather it be in swimwear, denim shorts, crop tops or with pencil skirts.”

Headbands

With warmer weather comes many more undo; for many, updos are best done in style. What better way to dress up a simple bun than with a cool headband? One of the latest, and simplest, type of headbands for this season is the 1-accessory headband. This type of headband is usually an elastic that goes all the way around the head and comes in a variety of looks and styles. From rhinestones all the way around, to a simple flower or feather on the top, or a single-colored headband. These headbands can come in a variety of colors, so try something new and different with your hair.

Swimwear

After a few decades, the full one-piece is finally making a comeback. For those who like a bit more coverage, but want some style as well, look no further. Stores like JCPenney and others have what are called shirred-front one piece bathing suits that come in solids and prints. These suits have a “high-waisted” look to them that flatters the mid-section for all sizes and elongates the torso. The suit also provides more coverage on the top and bottom, to provide a bit more security for those of you getting active in your swimwear and hitting the beach volleyball court.

Hats

Hats are not typically something many enjoy wearing because they don’t find caps flattering. Hats are another retro piece of headwear making its comeback to popular retail stores. Floopy sun hats are a hit this summer. These hats actually provide great coverage for the face in the sun, while creating a sophisticated look. Also, because they are so floppy, you can arrange the hat to lean on certain sides or flip it up to create your own unique look. Hats come in different colors, patterns and some even include accessories, like bows and flowers (can also easily be added on).

“Another trend that’s kinda of coming back is the overall jeans and shorts,” Littlefield said. “I think if you have the right body shape and a cute crop top you can dress the overalls up or down.”

Whether it’s a brand new headband style or an old-fashioned bathing suit to everything in-between, summer is the time to experiment with new, fun and colorful trends that are purely for fashion or styled for comfort.

Latina Lawyers: You Can Do It!

gavelHow many times has it been said, “Law school is so hard”? The chances are probably several times. Like any form of higher education, law school is a challenging commitment that requires hard work and discipline. Instead of letting naysayers put ideas of “you can’t” in your head, think “you can”!

Latinas are underrepresented in the field of law and that is something that needs to change. According to the 2010 census, only 3.7% of all licensed lawyers in the United States are Hispanic, so just imagine how few Hispanic females are in that 3.7%. We are all young, passionate and hard working women who would be amazing in the court room. If you’re wondering why law school would be of any interest to you, just think about the issues you are passionate about. Children? Sports? Immigration? Almost every aspect of our society requires an attorney at some point.

“Sometimes I think about going to law school because I know it would really help me in my career,” said Andrea Calderon, sophomore psychology student at the University of Texas at Austin.

Having a law degree to your name automatically sets you apart in the professional field. Being a Latina lawyer sets them more apart. There are so many benefits that come from being a law school graduate and giving it a thought would not hurt.

“Even though this might sound dumb, shows like Scandal make me actually want to go to law school,” Calderon said.

There are several different motivations for why someone would want to become a lawyer. Whether a chica is inspired by shows like Scandal or even the judges on tv, the most important thing is for her to know she is capable of doing the same thing. The preliminary steps to getting a law degree are to work hard in school and do well on the LSAT, the standardized test that measures one’s preparedness for law school. Once those steps are locked in, applying for law school is next!

Audrey Medrano, sophomore at Westside High School, said she has been thinking about law school as a possibility in her future. She hopes her athletic skills in volleyball and soccer can get a scholarship to undergraduate school so she can start saving for law school.

“I love to argue with people and prove my point,” Medrano said. “I always win arguments with my dad and one day I will show him I can do it professionally.”

Arguing is one part of being an abogada, and it’s safe to say Latinas love to voice their opinions. But before a chica can even get into law school, she needs to be focusing on her grades since high school. Getting into law school is a competitive process and Latinas need to give their competitors a taste of their hard work! Sharpen those GPAs and focus on what you’re passionate about, and law school will be something that you can achieve!

For more information on how to become a lawyer, visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/lawyers.htm

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