St. Patrick’s Day Nail Art

There are many reasons to enjoy the lovely month of March; warmer weather, brighter spirits, flowers, and the liveliness of St. Patrick’s Day! For those who don’t own many green articles of clothing, try out this easy tutorial for cheerful St. Patrick’s Day nails!

First, look through your nail polish collection to make sure you have a green nail polish. Have a bright green-yellow color? No problem! Any shade of green will do. Next, pick four different polishes that will make up a rainbow. You can choose any different colors that you think would look good together. For this tutorial a radiant purple, a bright blue, a sunny orange, and a deep red are the perfect combo. You will also need black and gold nail polishes of your choosing. For this nail look, you can use a glitter top coat (optional).

 

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The only other tools you’ll need for this nail tutorial are things you can find around the house: toothpicks and any kind of plate that can be used to hold little samples of nail polish. The plate will be ruined, so make sure you get one that you don’t have to use in the future!

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Step 1: This step is prepping your nails for the super easy nail art that we will be doing. To make your nail polish last longer, start off with a base coat. If you don’t have a base coat polish, that’s totally fine! Start off by painting your nails with a couple of coats of your green nail polish. In this step, I also added the glitter top coat that I chose to use. Because I would be drawing a rainbow on the ring finger, I didn’t coat that one nail with glitter nail polish just yet.

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Step 2: Grab your plate and pour a tiny little bit of the first polish you will be using. We’re going to start the rainbow, so pick whichever color you’d like to start with. You only need a tiny little bit, so don’t pour too much. When I first did my nail art, I got a little overexcited and I poured all the colors one after the other. By the time I got to using them, they each had dried up. Don’t make that mistake! Pour one color at a time.

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Step 3: Draw your rainbow. Using the toothpicks, draw the four lines that will become your rainbow. To do this, paint one color, wait for it to dry, then paint the next one. Repeat this until you’ve used up all four colors. You can make the lines arched, like a rainbow, or you can opt to paint them in straight lines. I found that I made less mistakes and had more nail room to work with when I made them in a straight line so I decided to paint my rainbow that way. If you choose to make them arched, make sure you’re careful to keep the lines thin. That makes it easier to fit the whole rainbow on your nail! After I painted my rainbow and waited for it to dry, I added a glitter top coat.

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Step 4: Time to paint our pot of gold! The little pot is easy to draw. Because we’re painting the pot on our thumbnail and we have more nail room to work with, we can use the nail polish brush to draw. Using the brush, paint a circle that takes up about a third of your nail. Then, draw a straight line to top off your little pot. That’s it!

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Step 5: Once your pot has completely dried up, pick up your gold nail polish and start painting on some gold! I painted on thick dots of polish to give it a look with more texture. If you have gold glitter nail polish, this would be a perfect opportunity to use it!

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Ta-da! Your St. Patrick’s Day manicure is complete. Not only is this easy look festive, but it keeps pinching fingers away from you!

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Have a happy and lucky St. Patrick’s Day!

Quiz: Are you a Leader or a Follower

latina leadersDo you fall into peer pressure when you see everyone wearing the same type of clothes? Do you do your own thing and expect everyone else to do the same as you? Take this quiz and find out if you are a leader or a follower.

1. When you see everyone wearing clothes you don’t like, but they look at you weird for not wearing them, you:

a. Quickly go to the nearest mall and buy some of those clothes

b. Stay with your clothes because you like it, and you don’t care what they think

c. Tell them they’re wearing ugly clothes

2. You see someone eating alone during lunch, and everyone is just making fun of them, so you decide to:

a. Make fun of them too because they’re by themselves

b. Go eat with them and tell them not to listen to everyone else

c. Ignore everyone

3. You’re in class and the teacher asks the class a question, everyone is shouting out the same answer and you know it’s wrong so you:

a. Shout the same answer as everyone else, even if you know it’s wrong

b. Say the answer you think is the right one, even if it’s different than everyone else

c. Just sit there waiting for everyone to be quiet

4. You go out to eat with some friends and they order a salad but you really want a burger, so you decide to:

a. Order a salad, then they’ll think you eat too much

b. Order a hamburger because it’s what you want

c. Not eat anything

5. Everyone is skipping class to go swimming, you remember you have a test, what do you do?

a. Skip class and go swimming because you don’t want them to make fun of you

b. Go to class because you think it’s more important than swimming

c. Not go to class at all and go home and sleep

6. Your “Friends” start saying bad words in public at each other, but you know that’s not good, so you:

a. Say bad words anyway, they think it’s cool

b. Don’t say bad words, leave to another place where you’re more comfortable

c. Tell everyone they’re stupid and go home

7. You’ve always wanted to dye your hair blonde, but your other friend says she’s the only blonde and if you dye it, you’re out of the group, what do you do?

a. Don’t dye it, you don’t want to be out of the group

b. Dye it and find new friends that like you for who you are

c. Tell her she’s dumb and go dye your hair

8. You learn a new phrase in class and you think it sounds cool, but your friends don’t, what do you do?

a. Stop saying it, and say only what they want you to say

b. Say it anyway and start hanging out with better friends

c. Ignore them, say the phrase and fight them if they don’t like it

9. Your Mom just made new food to try, but it looks weird and your sibling says “That’s gross, I’m not eating”, but you decide to:

a. Say the same thing, and not eat it, because it looks weird

b. Try it and find out if you like it or not

c. Buy some pizza

Now you can look below to see whether or not you are a Leader, or a Follower. Good Luck!

Mostly A’s:

Definitely a Follower, you think way too much about what people think about you and you want them to be happy with you, even if you think differently. Try hanging out with different crowds, if they don’t let you be yourself, they are not your real friends.

Mostly B’s:

I smell a Leader! You don’t care what people think about you, even if it means losing some friends, you go with your gut, try new things, and do what makes you happy. Keep doing that, you’re doing great!

Mostly C’s:

You certainly don’t care what people think about you, but you’re not quite the leader either. You need to get more involved with people and be nicer, even if you don’t like what they think, you have to take in consideration their feelings instead of bursting with mean words at them. Try harder!

To have a Quince Mass or Not?

Photo courtesy from http://quinceanera.com.

Photo courtesy from http://quinceanera.com.

The religious ceremony has been a constant tradition in the Quinceañera celebration until recently. While some girls choose to continue the religious tradition, others do not.  While planning (or even just thinking of) a Quinceañera celebration, one element of the festivities always comes to mind: the religious ceremony.

According to Quincehelp.com, “the quinceañera mass is a thanksgiving for [the Quinceañera’s] first 14 years of life.” Nowadays, the religious ceremony is seen as an optional part of the quince celebration. Girls having a quince use their religious beliefs (or lack thereof) to determine whether or not to have a religious ceremony.

For April Reza, 19, she had her quince in 2010 and said having a religious ceremony was easy. “It’s something I always wanted since I was little,” she remembers with a smile. Growing up as a Catholic in an all-Catholic household, April saw the religious ceremony pass down as a tradition in her family. “It’s something we always do,” she says.

Since having a religious celebration is a tradition in her family, it was very well received. April recalls, “They really enjoyed it…they wish they could’ve done the whole thing over again.”

While some girls like April go the traditional route, others like to be different. Nastassia Artalejo, a self-employed photographer who had her quince in 2006, chose to not have a quinceañera.

Raised in a non-religious household and being agnostic herself, Nastassia says that having a religious ceremony was “not important [for me]. I just wanted to be there to celebrate what my parents thought was an important birthday.”

While Nastassia’s parents were fine with her not having a ceremony, her extended family did not have a similar reaction. “It was confusing for the rest of my family that I wasn’t having a ceremony because they are all Catholic. My cousins all had ceremonies at churches, but I didn’t,” she recalls.

Ultimately, a religious ceremony should be something you “do…for yourself”, says Nataly Monique Montana, a 10th grader who recently had her quince in 2012.

Nataly was raised as a baptist but was not officially baptized in her church. In order for her to have had a religious ceremony at her church, she and her parents would have had to go through a series of religious meetings with the priest of her church and be baptized.  When Nataly and her parents were planning her quince they realized that there wouldn’t be enough time before her quince. Nataly and her parents were not disheartened because they couldn’t have a ceremony, and, instead, Nataly says her dad and her said a prayer during the quinceañera which she remembers being personal and fulfilling.  Despite Nataly coming from a religious upbringing she recalls,  “no one said anything” about her not having had a religious ceremony.

While having a religious ceremony as part of a quince is customary, girls planning their quince shouldn’t feel pressured to follow in tradition’s footsteps for the sake of doing so. According to Quinceanera.com, a girl renews her baptismal vows and promises to honor herself and her religion before God and her community at the ceremony. This carries a lot of religious and cultural significance, so don’t do it if your heart and personal beliefs aren’t in it. Remember, it is your big day, so make it yours in your own special way, with or without a ceremony.

Ellen Ochoa is Out of This World

Ellen_OchoaEllen Ochoa is a Latina who has impressed the world with her intelligence and ambition. A California native, she studied physics at San Diego State University and graduated in 1980 with a bachelor of science degree. A short year later, she graduated from Stanford University with a masters of science degree in electrical engineering. If that wasn’t impressive enough, in 1985 she earned her doctorate degree in electrical engineering. Personally, I think anyone who studies physics and electrical engineering in general deserves all the accolades possible, but earning a doctorate in this field from one of the most prestigious universities in the world is AMAZING. Plus, women weren’t expected to be outstanding in the STEM fields.

Ellen Ochoa is so important to the Hispanic community because she literally took Latino pride and carried it to a place outside of this world. Ellen Ochoa’s ambition and hard work earned her a “first” title. In 1993, as a part of the mission aboard the Discovery, Ochoa became the first Hispanic woman to travel to space. Isn’t that amazing? Doesn’t it just fill you with pride and a warm feeling in your heart?!

Today, Ochoa is the director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. When she took over the position on January 1, 2013, she became the first Hispanic woman and second women ever to be director at the Johnson Space Center.

Ellen Ochoa is definitely a pride to all Latinas.

Street Harassment

Written by Rebecca Jackson

Latinas and women around the world are thinking creatively about ending street harassment. From sharing their experiences online, to writing poetry and taking photographs of their harassers, women and girls are doing their part to put an end to the fear and intimidation.

What is street harassment?

StopStreetHarassment-2Street harassment is just a new name for an age-old experience: women and girls receiving unwanted comments or gestures from strangers (mostly men) in public. In a 2010 study, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control identified street harassment as “harassing the victim in a public place in a way that made the victim feel unsafe.” Unfortunately, street harassment happens to ladies of all ages living all over the world. Gabi Deal-Marquez, 23,  recalls that, “catcalls have been a part of my life, a part of growing up as long as I can remember.” In the United States 33.7% of women will experience street harassment in their lifetime. The percentage is even higher for Latinas, 36.1% of whom will experience street harassment. Internationally, studies have shown that anywhere from 70% to 95.5% of women living outside of the U.S will experience street harassment in their lifetime.

Women Fighting Back

While the statistics are bleak, Latina responses to street harassment provide practical guidance on living with street harassment and inspiration for ending it entirely. “Early on I was taught by my mother to keep my eyes open, know where you’re going, look street smart,” says Deal-Marquez. Jocelyn Cardona, 21, shared her techniques for dealing with street harassment, “I want to feel safe when I am walking. Sometimes I would make a funny face or ask them to mind their own business. . . Now I walk down the street and the expression on my face is hard, cold, and unwelcoming.”

While many women can share their methods for avoiding street harassment, it is important to know that street harassment, and sexual violence of all kinds, is never the fault of the victim and always the fault of the person doing the harassing.

Lauri Valerio, 23, shares that “To me [street harassment] represents a power struggle. It seems that when I am cat called or shouted at on the street, or when someone makes those gross kissing noises, it has nothing to do with how hot or not I am and everything to do with the fact that I look vaguely female from where the harasser is standing.” Street harassment is about men displaying power over women and it is unacceptable. Valerio went on to say that “talking about it, for now, may be my main way to find comfort and solidarity and put up a little fight against it.”

The power of talking about street harassment is the founding principle behind Hollaback! “a non-profit and movement to end street harassment powered by local activists in 64 cities and 22 countries.” Research by Hollaback! shows that responding to street harassment, instead of ignoring it, can help women ward-off feelings of isolation and powerlessness. Writing about your experiences, taking a picture of your harasser on your cell phone, and even giving you harasser a pointed glare can help minimize trauma. The organization provides a forum online for women to share their experiences with street harassment, enjoy international solidarity around the issue, and brainstorm ways to end street harassment for good.

Artist Hannah Price uses her camera to respond to street harassers. Price takes photographs of them after they call to her on the street. Price shared with NPR that, “just turning the photograph on them kind of gives them a feel of what it’s like to be in a vulnerable position — it’s just a different dynamic,” Price says. “But it’s just another way of dealing with the experience, of trying to understand it.”

Overcoming Street Harassment

Whatever their age or location, women are taking inspiring and innovative approaches to making  the street a more welcoming place for all of us. You can be a part of that change! Remember that street harassment is never your fault! If you encounter street harassment don’t be afraid to share your experience with Hollaback! or a trusted adult. Older women especially will likely understand your experience and offer you support.  Walking in public in a group may help you feel less threatened if someone yells at you on the street. If your harasser is someone you know report the incident to a trusted family member or teacher. If someone you know is harassing someone else, challenge their behavior if you feel safe doing so. Ask them if they understand how their actions impact others. Tell them it isn’t funny and make your disapproval clear.

Mi Familia

Latina Girl Writing - LatinitasLatinitas hosted a blog-a-thon to celebrate Women’s History Month. Here’s what some of our writers had to say about the mujeres in their familia.

“[My mom is the person] I love the most in my life! She’s such an amazing woman; I’ve never seen anyone work harder than her. She’s the founder and director of a Spanish immersion preschool, and when I watch her work there I can’t help but get inspired to work hard as well. It makes me proud to be a Latina who takes part in teaching others about the colorful and amazing Hispanic culture. Working with her at the preschool is what made me realize how much I love working with others, especially children. And because of this I now want to become a child therapist. Gracias, mamá!” – Vanessa Aguirre, 14

“ Looking up into my abuela’s eyes, I saw her passion for cooking and serving her family, and keeping their house nice and tidy. She loves staying at home and performing her duties as a housewife. But, my abuela is apart of the last generation of Hispanic women who are having this role. Hispanic women today are businesswomen, lawyers, doctors, spokeswomen, and so much more. We are evolving to be the biggest and powerful women out there, Latinitas!

I used to think when I was younger, all Hispanic women knew how to do was cook, clean, and take care of the kids and the husband. But not anymore, Latinitas. We have an education now and we’re learning more and more and we will not stop! I am the first person (and female) in my family to go to college- receiving the highest education any of my family has ever gotten. I see how proud I make my family and how much I will be able to help them. But, the greatest thing of all, many young Latinas (like YOU) are receiving a wonderful education!

I am seeing us Hispanic women become stronger than ever. We want to make a difference in this world! We do not need to stick to the same stereotype that everyone believes: all that Latina women know how to do is cook and clean. Of course, we will always love to take care of our familias, but, that doesn’t mean we can’t contribute more to our world and make ourselves better women.

One thing I have learned as a Hispanic woman, Latinitas, is we are capable of doing more than we have ever imagined.  Let us prosperinto the beautiful Latina women that we are! Change is not a bad thing, Latinitas, including the change we are experiencing as Latina women. We have come such a far way, so lets continue to make our familias proud!” – Megan Garcia, 19

“I got my first job during my second year of college. Scared, I really didn’t know what I was getting into working at a call center. No one in my family had previous call center experience and that really intimidated me at first since I was really struggling. But my sister however, has always been an incredibly hard worker, working all the way through college. She worked as a hostess for 4 years and a lot of times had to study on the job. So when I would complain about speaking with someone who was rude or mean to me, I always pictured my sister in the back of my head. She was and continues to be one of my biggest family influences.” – Ingrid Vasquez, 19

 

Makeup Hygiene

Photo credit: college fashion.net

Photo credit: college fashion.net

Most chicas do not know how important it is to keep your makeup brushes and application tools clean. Makeup products tend to store bacteria and might cause you to get pimples when you apply them to your face, yuck!

 Here are some important guidelines to keep your makeup and tools clean and bacteria-free:

1. The way you wash your makeup brushes is by rinsing only the bristles of your brush under hot water. You should be careful not to wet the metal part of your makeup brush because it will cause the bristles to come off.

2. Apply a pea size amount of your favorite shampoo to your hand and spread it to your brush in circular motions. You will see the shampoo changing color because of the makeup residue that was stored on the bristles.

3. Rinse the makeup brushes again with hot water until the water runs out clear. Try to shape the bristles into their original shape and place them on a towel. Place the brushes angled so that the bristles are facing down. This will allow the excess water to drain onto the towel. It is better if you let  the brushes air dry during the night. This way, in the morning when you are getting ready for school you apply your makeup with clean and fresh brushes.

You should wash your makeup brushes at least once a week. By doing this your make up application will look more flawless.

Did you know? Makeup CAN expire. 

An important fact that every chica needs to know is that makeup expires just like food. All beauty items have expiration dates and most products are not labeled with them. Expired makeup might cause your skin to breakout because the ingredients are not in the optimum condition. If you notice a change in texture, color and scent you need to toss the product away.

Here is the list of expiration dates for makeup products:

Foundation and concealer- from 6-8 months

Mascara and liquid liner- about 3 months

Any powder (blush,eye shadow or pigments)- one year

Lipstick or lipgloss- one year to 2 years

Also, remember to replace your makeup sponges constantly so you can rock a makeup without impurities.

Book Review: “Fostered Adult Children Together”

9781475988390_p0_v1_s260x420Written by Alexis Bobadilla

Fostered Adult Children Together, On The Bridge to Healing … Will we ever get over it? tells the stories of over 60 former foster children whom faced several obstacles within the American Foster Home system and came out scarred, broken, yet positive, hopeful and faithful. Aside from the devastating experiences, there were many positive notes in the stories as well. Most of the journeys throughout this book end with the writer being emotionally scarred but with a positive view that they survived.

The main author of the book is a powerful woman named Carol Lucas who was also a former foster child. Lucas is the founder of F.A.C.T., or Fostered Adult Children Together, which she created to help former foster children come together for support, to encourage them, give them strength and help them heal together. Carol Lucas also wrote this book hoping to help other former foster children know that there are other people who have gone through the system, and to let them know that they are not alone.

Many of these stories are very moving, and show the benefits that come from the book and from receiving assistance from her organizatione. One of the stories is from a Hispanic woman named Tianna (Tia) Marie Hartford. She went through so much before the age of 9 years old. From being drowned to being chained in the basement, her story does not get better until the age of 25. The strength that this Latina woman has shown is very admirable. Even after everything she endured during her childhood, she still had enough courage to have children, twins to be exact. For most people the events that have happened to her would have traumatized someone from having their own children. Even though she has her doubts about being a mother, she is still trying to make sure they have a better life than she did. Hartford has a truly inspiring tale that needs to be told.

In another story the writer Terri Rimmer, who is also a former foster child, provided 10 Tips for Former Foster Children that every former foster child should follow.

Terri Rimmer shares the following tips for former foster children: 

Tip #1: Think positively about your future, now is a fresh start.

Tip #2: Find support

Tip #3: Get counseling

Tip #4: Join a church

Tip #5: Keep in contact with siblings and think wisely regarding family contact

Tip #6: Enjoy life without children for awhile

Tip #7: Volunteer

Tip #8: Stay away from drugs

Tip #9: Speak out

Tip #10: Ask for help

These tips should be a guideline for every former foster child who has been pushed through the foster care system. This book is highly recommended to anyone who is either interested in social work, foster care and for any former foster child who wants a support group to overcome their childhood memories.

The Changing Face of the Quinceañera

Photo Credit: Adriana Candelaria

Photo Credit: Adriana Candelaria

For non-Spanish speakers, quinceañera is a mouthful. For young Latina women, a quinceañera is a chance to publicly step into womanhood and reconnect to Latino culture.  For event planners, florist, bakers, and dress makers, quinceañeras translate into booming business.

“For as long as I can remember quinceañeras were something that I was infatuated with,” says 19-year-old Karla Estrada.  “I would dream of the perfect dress, the music, having all eyes on me.”

The growing industry in the United States around the quinceañera, or quince for short, shows the growing influence of the Latino population in the United States. But just like there is not one kind of Latino, there is not just one type of quinceañera.

Quintessential quinces

Popular quinceañera planning websites like quinceanera.com and quincehelp.com provide overviews of what a typical quinceañera ceremony looks like to help young girls and families plan the event.

According to quincehelp.com, the ceremony usually has two parts – the mass and the reception.  The mass is often called the Mass of Thanking and allows the young girl, also called the Quinceañera, to thank her family and demonstrate the role faith will play in her transition into maturity.

The reception takes place in a venue complete with themed decorations and a dance floor.  The reception begins with a grand entrance by the court which includes the Quinceañera, her chambelán or male date, 7 girls, and 7 boys.  The Quinceañera then dances with her father followed by court-performed choreographed dances.

Symbolic traditions that take place at the reception include the lighting of 15 candles, the slipper-high-heel-shoe-exchange, and the presentation of the last doll.  The slipper-shoe exchange and the presentation of the doll mark the end of the Quinceañera’s childhood.

Though these might be the more common quince traditions, as Estrada says “Every household and family is different, we all have our traditions that have been passed down for centuries.”

Tracing roots: quinceañera origins

Important to quinceañera traditions we see today is the history connecting the ceremony across nationalities.

“My sense is that rituals tell a people who they are,” says Nicole Guidotti-Hernández, Professor of American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.  “Scholars focus on both to historicize the how, the where, and the why of the quinceañera ritual.”

According to a 1997 article by scholar Karen Mary Dávalos, the quince is said to have originated as an indigenous practice, and more specifically, as an Aztec and Mayan tradition.  The ceremony is also said to have been a Spanish tradition passed onto present-day Latin America through colonialism.

Though some scholars place the creation of the quince in pre-colonial Mexico, Guidotti-Hernández, notes that “the coming of age ceremony be it the sweet 16 or the quinceañera for 15 year olds is not restricted to one ethnic group.”  She points out that “Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and Central Americans also hold quinceñeras.”

Mapping traditions

Estrada, whose father is from Guatemala and mother is from Colombia, said she changed up a few traditions in her ceremony.

“Guatemalan tradition is that the Quinceañera wears white to show purity and honor,” says Estrada.  “I wore a light lilac color dress.”  Estrada also says that Guatemalan Quinceañeras are “expected to have a mass or church service 6 hours before the party to get approval of the transformation.”  Instead, Estrada had the service during her party.

Estrada also notes that her mother’s quinceañera in Colombia was less a ceremony and more a “small get together with family.”

Not only do traditions change, however slightly, from country to country.  Traditions also change through generation.

Rubi Reed, 14-years-old, said that she is still deciding on whether she will take a trip to celebrate her quinceañera or whether she will hold a typical ceremony.  Likewise, 18-year-old Gissel Ivanna decided not to have a quince because “I realized my stress level was going to increase and so was my mom’s.”

As Dávalos writes in her article, the Latinas she interviewed in the early 1990s were reluctant to rank quinceañera  ceremonies as “more-or-less traditional.” She attributes this discomfort with Latinas acknowledging the financial cost of extravagant quinces and their willingness to accept acceptance diversity in quinceañera ceremonies.

At the crossroads of time and place

“There is something about the U.S. context of the quinceañera that has made it distinct” says Guidotti-Hernández.  “What I am most interested in as a scholar is how the ritual has become more pan-ethnic and more embedded in consumption and excess in the last 30 years.”

Though the quinceañera ritual changes from Spanish-speaking country to Spanish-speaking country, it is perhaps making its biggest transformation in its U.S. context.  The accepted diversity within the centuries-old quince traditions signals an increasingly dynamic and multicultural U.S. Latina and Latino identity.

Retaining Your Cultural Heritage Through College

international_studentsSometimes with the start of a new chapter in one’s life, it’s difficult to hold one’s heritage close. And for some, the fear of losing one’s cultural roots may prevent someone from attending college far away or stepping off to a new adventure. This is why it’s so important to see the value of being a Latina or Latina-American in a different setting from how you grew up.

One of the greatest things about living in the United States is that you’re surrounded by so many cultures and cultural perspectives. And many grow up in a household that celebrates more than one culture and speaks more than one language. Today, there are roughly 53 million Hispanics in the United States, making it the largest ethnic minority in our nation. And for states such as California, Hispanics are the majority.

California native and Yale graduate, Stephanie Cuevas said, “My high school was approximately 90% Latino. Transitioning to college at Yale, where Latinos only made up 10% of the student population, was a bit of a culture shock.”

Many can relate to this situation, and one of the best things to avoid feeling out of place is joining an organization that celebrates Latino culture and taking Latino studies courses. This will not only help with avoiding feeling out of place, but one can find many in the same boat to relate with.

“As a light skinned Mexican-American, my peers often questioned my relationship to my cultural identity and would sometimes label me as “white.” Rather than assimilating, I took courses in Latino studies and maintained involvement in our cultural house, La Casa Cultural. Through these steps, I grew closer to my family’s roots, and further explored what it means to be a Latino in America. We are a rich and diverse group with similar, but different, cultural perspectives,” said Cuevas.

“Don’t let fear stop you from putting yourself out there to meet new people in clubs or organizations. Joining a club organization with a cultural focus will be your home away from home. Most universities have international clubs for culture, comida, or even Hispanic interests! Yes, even in dominantly non-Latino schools! If your school doesn’t have one, you might consider starting your own to unite other Latinos,” said Jasmine Villa, Latinitas Communications and Fundraising Assistant.

Other than joining clubs or organizations, keep speaking and practicing Spanish – whether it’s calling a family member or just reading a book in Spanish. It’s a quality so imperative to have for today’s growing demographic. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, the number of Spanish speakers in the U.S. has grown rapidly over the past few decades. Today, there are 37.6 million Spanish speakers, making it the most spoken language after English. It’s a quality many don’t see the importance of at a young age, but see the role it plays when getting into professional careers. And it’s also a quality many are envious for not having – so feel empowered!

“Practice your Spanish as often as you can. Speak Spanish, write in Spanish, and read in Spanish,” said Alexandra Landeros, Freelance Writer and Publicist.

And lastly, don’t ever feel out of place. Being with people who make you proud of who you are and ones you can count on lead to a satisfying and fulfilling college experience.

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