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?

Quiz: Do You Know the Chicano Education Struggle?

Social Media Done RightSo you know about the Alamo, Santa Ana, and maybe about Cesar Chavez. But what else do you know about the history of Mexican Americans? There’s a lot to our past that we know very little of – but no fear, we are here to help change a little of that. The Latino and Latina’s right to education has not been an easy path, and we are here to put your knowledge to the test of the Chicano educational struggle, from prominent court cases to terminology.

This quiz is not for the faint of heart. Are you up for the challenge? Step up to the plate and try your best – it’s okay if you can’t get a perfect score. You’ll walk away from this quiz learning a lot more  about the Chicano educational struggles, which is way more rewarding.

1. There were many justifications school officials used for segregating Mexican American students from white students, aside from prejudice. What was not a reason used for segregating?

A) Mexican American preference – they wanted to be segregated

B) Low achievement – they did not do well compared to other students

C) Language problems – the language barrier between Teachers and Spanish-speaking students

D) High achievement – they did better compared to the other students

2. Which act prohibits discrimination against faculty, staff, and students in educational institutions?

A) Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

B) 14th Amendment

C) Equal Education Opportunity Act

D) Right to Education Act

3. Crystal City, Texas is home to one of the most prominent school walkouts in 1969 for civil rights. Students walked out in protest over the racial limitations on the ______________ put by the school board.

A) Football team

B) Student body

C) Teaching staff

D) Cheerleading squad

4. Which president passed the Bilingual Education Act, which aimed to improve programs for students with limited English-speaking abilities – but ultimately failed?

A) Lyndon B. Johnson

B) John F. Kennedy

C) Ronald Reagan

D) Barrack Obama

5. Mendez v. Westminster is a court case that addresses racial segregation. It’s most known for critiquing the “separate but equal” standard created by Plessey v. Ferguson by adding that _________ equality should be involved in the standard.

A) Social

B) Racial

C) Gender

D) Economic

6. Cisneros v. Corpus Christi ISD was the first court case to argue that Mexican Americans were an ethically identifiable minority group and abandoned the ___________ strategy that many other cases had used previously.

A) Hispanic-Caucasian

B) Other white

C) We’re all the same

D) No race

7. What does LULAC stand for?

A) Latinos United in Latin American Countries

B) League of United Latin American Citizens

C) Leave Underrepresented Latino Americans in Class

D) Love and Unite Latin Americans in the Country

8. What is the name for the type of segregation that occurs when Caucasian students leave a school because of the rise in attendance of Mexican American students?

A) De jure

B) Jumping ship

C) De facto

D) White flight

9. LULAC vs. Clements was a court case that fought for access to equal educational resources (such as higher education) for Texas residents in _______________ region.

A) Panhandle

B) South

C) Central

D) Border

10. Which of the following is not an outcome from segregated schools settings?

A) High drop out rates

B) School stress

C) Increase in college-bound students

D) Poor performance in academics

Answer Key:

1. D – Students were not segregated because they preformed higher than others.
2. C – Equal Education Opportunity Act was an important act for educational rights.
3. D – There was a restriction of only 2 Mexican American students on the cheerleading squad, despite the largely Hispanic population. This walkout prompted a change in the school board to reflect the population of the town.
4. A – Lyndon B Johnson emphasized education as a necessity for the American Dream, especially for minorities.
5. A – this case said stated the social inequality should be implemented with the “separate but equal” decision, and sparked a ripple in Civil Rights cases. It had an indirect influence on the Brown v. Board of Education case.
6. B – other white refereed to Mexican- Americans as the “other white,” but this was changed with a school attempted to mix African-American and Mexican American students as a form of “desegregation”.
7. B – LULAC is an organization that advocates for the rights of Latinos in the US.
8. D – de facto is segregation by law and de jure is segregation by residential neighborhoods.
9. D – this case was about residents in Border regions. Although they lost, it influenced the creation of South Border Texas Initiative, which is a funding package for 9 four-year universities in the area.
10. C – segregated settings negatively affect the amount of students going to college.

This quiz was inspired by a class available at the University of Texas at Austin.

Career Spotlight: Assistant Instructor

booksCarolyn Rhea Drapes is an instructor in the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), she holds a PhD and imparts English and business writing classes.

What are some of your job responsibilities?

As a graduate student, I seek to use the dissertation process and time to create new knowledge and collaborate with my peers. Moreover, as an Assistant Instructor, I am tasked with gaining teaching experience as an RWS instructor of undergraduate rhetoric and writing, technical writing, and business writing courses.

Describe your educational background and how it helped you prepare for your career?

After first graduating from Loretto, I entered UTEP immediately, but then left school to help raise a family and work. Later, when my younger daughter entered high school, I re-enrolled at UTEP and completed a BA in Creative Writing. I then entered the RWS program and completed a MA in Rhetoric and Writing Studies, and am now in its doctoral program. All said whether in the workplace or traditional classroom situations, my personal and work experiences have enabled me to bring a unique perspective to the classroom. In addition, working as a corporate Webmaster, visual specialist, and social media maven from the mid-90s through today has helped me to use this eclectic skill set which is perfect for teaching. Overall, I see this as a natural progression.

How did you find your current job?

Previously, all positions with the exception my position with El Paso Natural Gas Company (which was found through an agency) was obtain with the help of friends and associates. My current job differs in that it was acquired from being accepted into the graduate program. As an Assistant Instructor, I am assigned courses to teach each semester, including summer classes when the opportunity arises.

How did you prepare for this career?

To prepare to teach in the program, I first earned the required number of graduate level course credits, which included a pedagogy course. This training also included shadowing an experienced instructor within the program. That semester I attended her class and observed others while also attending my graduate courses. Before the end of that semester, I was helping lecture. Throughout the semester, my teaching mentor and I normed grades and discussed various issues that a teacher is likely to encounter in the classroom. Currently, I attend several meetings each semester with those in the program; in these, we have the opportunity to learn and explore various teaching methods. Continuing professional education in the field ensures that our camaraderie remain vital, informed, and progressive.

What is your favorite part of the job?

Helping students gain their own set of writing and research skills is always important. However, a favorite aspect is appreciating their hard work and why they seek to remain in school and work towards a specific goal. Each goal is as different as the students I teach. This inspires me as I enjoy hearing about their lives and listening to their stories. This helps me understand their situation, which allows me to encourage them to use their current and past experiences when earning their degree. Their reasons for furthering their education help me immensely. Each day in the classroom, I learn new things, and this helps me improve my own writing and research methods.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

An important challenge is to balance my research and writing with teaching and, of course, to make time for my family. My family supports me, which is vitally important to my teaching and working towards my degree. Without them, my life would be quite empty and more difficult to navigate.

What impact does your profession have on young Latinas?

We as graduate instructors seek to help all students better understand the importance of working towards a goal, whether it is the goal of an assignment, or the goal of completing their degree. We support their aims and goals, no matter the degree. Rarely do I ever see a student that is undeclared or uncertain about what they want to do with their lives; this shows me how focused our student population is. Latinas, as are all students, whether young or returning, are valued greatly at this institution. To that end, we are given the opportunity to impart our knowledge and to positively support them.

What do you do for fun when you’re not working?

Photography, drawing, and writing have been life-long passions. I have found that I tend to capture images surrounding my life each day and then seek to manipulate and use them creatively. Even if I am unable to leave campus or home, I find I am constantly composing, whether with images or texts. I also like to read and explore social media trends.

Does living in a border city make you more aware of Hispanic issues?

Of course. My entire life has been a voyage between cultures and economic situations, even when my family and I left El Paso for life in Northern New Mexico for a time. Moreover, as a child of and partner in bicultural marriages, I find we all walk a fine line between various communities constantly. It is interesting to view how each group works with, for, and against each other. We blend and separate constantly, which makes it difficult to find and work for positive change for the whole.

What advice would you give to help girls to prepare for a job like this?

I would say that young women of all ages should think about what it is that they wish to accomplish and then, how to best attain that goal or sets of goals. While the path may shift or change, each student, each woman has a great opportunity to enrich their lives by completing their degree and stepping out into the wider world ready to make a positive impact. If they seek a graduate degree, they should understand that they would enter not only a scholarly environment for themselves, but also learning one for her and for others as well. She will need to understand that she is there to share her skills and knowledge so that the next group of young Latinas can learn and grow positively from the experiences she will share with them.

Quiz: What Song Are You?

Music2Music is one of the many creative outlets. It’s used to tell a story, spark emotion, and, most importantly, is used to express yourself! From carefully crafted lyrics, rhythmic beats, and sweet melodies, songs embody an essence that carries personality. Take this quiz to find out which Latina’s iconic song represents you!

1. What adjective would your friends use to describe you?

A) Shy

B) Independent

C) Fun

D) Dramatic


2. Your friend asked you for help to plan her birthday party, what is your role?

A)   Helping hand – everything & anything she needs, I got it!

B)   Constructive criticism – Hey! She’ll thank me later, when she has the best party ever.

C)   Tunes Whiz – Don’t care what’s going on, so long as I get to get my groove on.

D)   Bouncer – That guest list is exclusive! She can’t just have anyone there.


3. What color do you like to paint your nails?

A)   Black

B)   Red

C)   Neon pink

D)   Purple


4. You find out your crush isn’t into you, how do you react?

A)   Sad, of course! But it happens, it’s not like I told anyone that I was crushing, anyways.

B)   His loss! If he doesn’t see how amazing I am, then totally not worth it.

C)   What crush?! I’m just trying to have fun with my friends. Boys shmoys.



5. What school organization/activity are you more than likely to take part in?

A)   Tutoring

B)   Sports team

C)   Dance

D)   School Newspaper


6. What is your greatest strength?

A) Your reliability

B) Your honesty

C) Your loyalty

D) Your wit


7. What does your dream job involve?

A) Helping people

B) Traveling

C) Flexibility

D) The red carpet


Mostly A’s – Skyscraper by Demi Lovato
Like this gentle and emotional tune, you tend to be a little more on the shy side. You’re very compassionate and care a lot for others. You find yourself always saying yes and putting what other people feel in front of your own feelings. You don’t like to be the center of attention and it takes a while for you to break out of your shell. But once you open up to people, they get to see how warm-hearted you are, so don’t be afraid to be noticed, you deserve it!

Mostly B’s – Come & Get It by Selena Gomez
That’s right, “come & get it” because you’re too independent and strong-willed to succumb to anyone’s games. You’re very head strong and honest. You have your own thoughts and opinions and are not afraid to share them. Sometimes you come off a little too strong and a little stubborn, but that’s okay! You have a mind of your own and you don’t let what anyone thinks affect you. You are a natural leader.

Mostly C’s – On the Floor by Jennifer Lopez
Just like this song, you have this effect on people that just wants to make them get up and dance! You are the life of the party and always want to have fun. You live for enjoying the little moments in life. You are carefree and bubbly. You are full of personality and you can’t always stay still. You hate having a routine and like to be spontaneous. Sometimes you can be a little impulsive, but that’s because you want to live life to the fullest. You make happiness your priority.

Mostly D’s – Can’t Remember to Forget You by Shakira
This tune that tells of a girl forgetting to move on from her ex embodies your love for the drama! Boring is overrated and you enjoy having something entertaining going on in life. You’re in-tune with the latest news, gossip, and are always onto the new fashion trends. You love the limelight and your friends enjoy your larger than life view on things. However, sometimes the drama can get a little stressful for you. Don’t forget to sit back and relax!

Spice Up Your Life with Hair Color

There are many different ways of expressing yourself. It’s the inside that matters the most, but it’s okay to try to express yourself physically as well. That’s why so many girls have tried experimenting  with hair color. With so many hair colors and different techniques, there’s a hair color out there for you! Whether you want just a strand colored or the whole head, hair color is a good way for girls to have fun. Coloring your hair might not be for everybody, but if you’re looking for some spice in your life, then a trip to the hair salon might be just what you need!

Remember to Ask for Family Approval

If you decided that you want to change your hair color, then family approval is truly advised! Coloring your hair might sound fun but it is important that your family is okay with this decision. Whether it’s a minor change or big change, it’s still best to ask before having to commit to something you are not used to. Also, you can also go to family members for fun suggestions! You might not be aware that something doesn’t suit you until you get an opinion. When changing your hair color, it is a good idea to talk to people. You never know, your best suggestion might come from your madre!

Semi-Permanent or Permanent Hair Color

There are many reasons why you would want either options, so think carefully when choosing what type of color you want. Semi-permanent hair color will stay on your head between 1 – 4 weeks. If you’re a chica who  is just looking for some temporary spice, then semi-permanent hair color could be ideal for you. If you want want your hair color to last for a long time, then permanent hair color is a good option! Remember, if you decide to do yourself or go a hair salon, you need double-check that you’re purchasing the correct option!

Highlights and Low-lights

You might have decided that one day you like your hair color but you just want to add in something a little different, like highlights. Highlights are hair strands that are colored to be lighter than your overall hair color. You can have one or you can have many! It just depends on your mood and personality. If you have really light hair but want a subtle look, then low-lights can be good for you! Low-lights are basically the complete opposite of high-lights, so they are dark strands instead of light strands of hair. There are several options for highlights and low-lights, so talk to your stylist or check out different looks online.



Wacky Colors

If you have decided that natural colors aren’t for you, then you might want to consider artificial hair colors! Pink and red are examples of artificial hair coloring. Margoth, who is 20, and a Health major shares that,”It’s fun to incorporate wacky hair colors because there are so many colors that I can play with!”Word of caution: non-natural hair colors are a great form of expression, but you need to think about how it might affect your school (if there is a rule against it). Artificial colors stand out a lot, so remember that you’ll be catching eyes with your awesome colors! All artificial colors are semi-permanent, so they won’t last that long. Whether you DIY or go to the salon, coloring your hair is a messy process.



Maintaining Your Look 

Coloring your hair isn’t all fun and games, chicas! If you want to keep your hair beautiful and healthy, you need to maintain it. If you want your color to last longer, you’ll need hair color treating shampoos because regular shampoo might take out the color more. Also, your hair is at risk every time you color it because of the chemicals. That’s why it’s best to wait at least a month or more when it comes to coloring your hair. If you are not careful, you could be able to damage your hair and you do not want to go to a hair salon because of this. So, remember to research your look carefully and buy the supplies that you need to make your hair color last!  ”Hair coloring is something that I never get tired of, but messing with all those chemicals also come with the responsibility of using a lot of conditioner,” adds Rosa, 21.

Whether you decide to color it or not, remember that your hair is beautiful no matter what! Remember to have fun and get advice from multiple people because with colored hair comes great responsibility!

Girl Talk: Friendship and Boyfriend Woes

JD-art-teenlove-20121229175333558035-300x0Have you ever had a friend in a bad relationship? Have you ever felt pressured into choosing between your best friend or your boyfriend? Or have you ever had to make a decision between your parents? Relationships are like a baby, you have to care, spend time with them, and love them; but you don’t want to lose a friendship over a boy, do you?Choosing between two people can also be a hard task because they’re people and they both somehow make you happy; the one that makes the decision is you, no one can pressure you into choosing something or someone you don’t want too. Listen to your heart!

 I have a friend that is going out with this boy. After a couple of weeks I start liking him, but I can’t say because she would get mad of me. I really like him, but she is my BFF. I don’t want to make a problem. What should I do? 

Well, hanging out with your ‘BFF’ and her boyfriend can cause you to get certain feelings towards him probably because she tells you a lot of great things about him, and probably more if her boyfriend is good looking.  Try to not hang out with them as much, or try talking to a different boy to get your mind off of your BFF’s boyfriend. A friendship and a relationship are two different things, and they shouldn’t be mixed. A boy should never come between a friendship or vice versa; don’t let just one boy ruin your friendship with your BFF.

A friend met a guy on Facebook and fell in love, but yet they still say I love you. They haven’t met in person, and then yesterday they broke up and they were yelling. Now my friend keeps crying and doesn’t want to meet new guys. What should I do?

Have a girls night with her, take funny movies, buy ice cream and chocolates, and/or get her out of the social networks for the night. After she’s gotten her mind off of Facebook and what happened between them, ask her to get ready to go out– just you and her. And take her out somewhere where she won’t think about the guy on Facebook. Have a good time together and help convince her that everything happens for a reason and maybe they weren’t meant to be.  Try explaining to her that online dating is not the safest way to date because it can be dangerous since she doesn’t know that person physically.

 My parents are separating, but I don’t know where to go. Should I go with my dad or mom? My friends don’t want me to move and I don’t want to leave them. Please help me. 

You should go with whomever you feel more comfortable with. It’s always hard to choose between your parents, but think about the long run, who do you get more along with? Who do you talk to the most? It’s all up to you and your feelings towards them. No one can tell you who to choose because no one knows your parents how you do. Remember, wherever you go you will meet new people, make new friends, and still be friends with your old friends. Think about what YOU really want; don’t think of anyone else right now, it’s your decision.


Best Apps For Your Education

latina girl on computerDid you know that thirty-eight percent of college students cannot go more than 10 minutes without technology, according to a study conducted by CourseSmart and Wakefield Research. Seventy-three percent said they would not be able to study without any form of technology.

Education has transformed drastically. More students take online courses and a lot of assignments and tasks are now expected to be completed and turned in electronically. Paper and pen have gone out the window, even textbooks are dwindling with the rise of eBooks.

It is a New Year and a new semester of school, so time to shrug off the holiday spirit and put on something a little more… studious. It is time for you to get started on your New Year’s resolution of attaining that golden 4.0 this semester. We are here to help with the best apps for your education. So dust off your iPads, iPhones, and tablets – who are we kidding, they weren’t collecting dust – and start downloading these free tools for success.

Spirals? Folders? Binders? Who needs then now-a-days with Evernote’s app-ly existence. For all those students who use their iPads and tablets for quick note taking in lecture, this app has all you need to stay organized and informed. Along with having the ability to create your own “notebook” for each class, this app contains a text feature for notes and a camera/photos feature that allows you to snap a quick pick – maybe a graph or a table – to put in your notebook. A cool part is that you can share your notebook with someone else to collect ideas and to do some research for the upcoming group project! Evernote, also, doubles as a planner. You can set reminders and create a to-do list to keep you on task. There is a lot going on with this app and it can get a little tricky to figure out, but with some exploration you’ll become an Evernote pro in no time. It is one of the few apps that is multifaceted.
“This app is great for note taking on my tablet,” University of Texas at Austin student, Maria Morales said. “I like how it syncs up with my stuff and has everything at your finger tips.”
Evernote deserves a gold star for its adaptation to the modern-student. Plus, you can sync the app with your phone and tablet — both Android and Apple!

If you find yourself jotting down quick to-do lists on Sticky notes, corners of papers, or yourself, this app is for you. It’s a planner in the disguise of multiple to-do lists. This app allows you to create as many lists as possible, whether it is a grocery list, to-do list, or a bucket list. For each item on your list, you can set a due date or a reminder – which is really helpful for when you’re adding a homework assignment or an assigned reading! It allows you to see what you have due during the week as a whole, so no need to flip through all your lists to see what you having going on. It can sync up with your email and allows you to even share your list with someone in your contacts or publish it.
“I find this app to be so much fun. It’s so easy and it makes me feel so organized,” said Georgie Jasso, University of Texas at San Antonio student. “I find myself making lists for everything just so I can use this app to check it off. I like how it says completed when you do.”
Wunderlist excels in its simplicity and its ability to make yourself feel so accomplished when you check off a completed task – especially with the little ‘ding’ it makes.

We all know that grades mean everything – they do when you’re trying to pass a class and get credit for it – so it is frustrating when you have that one professor who waits until the last minute to average out your grade. The professor will pass back your paper or test, let you see what you earned, and then pick it back up. Of course it won’t be posted and averaged out until a week before grades are due. It’s all on you to keep track and to know if you’re getting that A you need to keep your pristine GPA. So to make your life simpler and a little less stressful, the app Grades+ will be your savior. This app enables you to input your grades for homework, quizzes, tests, papers, and more for each class you take. Its handiest feature is that you can set a “target grade” and it will let you know what you need to make on your assignments to reach your goal. The number of hours is taken into consideration making its GPA calculation – for overall or just that single class – is spot-on. There is even a reminder feature for due dates.
“I was always keeping track of my grades. I like to know how I’m doing at all times,” said Daniella Aguirre, student at Texas A&M. “I like Grades+ because it does all the work for you – a plus for a lazy college student with a lot on their schedule. I like that it even lets me know what I need to score to get the grade I want in class.”
Grades+ is a useful and successful personal grade book.

Are you an auditory learner? Notes help, but what actually gets you to understand is re-listening to a lecture and making sure you got every key point and definition thrown your way.  Recordium is a recording app – and yes, that’s its only feature. But what makes it so effective  is that it allows you to add notes, tags, highlight, and pictures as you record. This makes it simpler to go back and listen to the audio with additional snippets of information. You just set record and tap the whichever button you want to include an additional memo. There is also a search feature that makes sifting through the masses of audio files more user friendly. Also, you can upload your recording to Evernote, DropBox, Google Drive, or email it.
“I got this app because I was testing out if recording a lecture would help me study better. I ended up really liking it! It’s a recording that is tailored to how you want to study. I’ll add some notes or even highlight to make sure I’m getting all that I can from it,” said Gabriela Gonzales, student at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Recordium is another simple and basic app that deserves an applause for meeting the needs of a student.


Canvas is a platform that more than 800 colleges, universities, and school districts are using now. It’s how you get your grades, syllabus, assignments, readings, contact your professor and classmates, and much much more. But did you know that there is an app for that? Well there is! And if you find yourself living, breathing, and eating (well not exactly) Canvas, then download it and always have it at your fingertips.

SuperNotes is a lot like Evernote just without all the bells and whistles. It is a simple note taking app that is divided by notes, lectures, and memos. It has a recording feature that allows you to record lectures, a camera feature, and even a reminder feature! It’s worth a look, if you want to try other note-taking options.

Cyber bullying is real. And with the growth of technology and social media, it has grown too. But here’s a great new app that’ll help you put a stop to that. Censogram links with your Instagram and allows you to scan your account for any negativity that doesn’t belong amongst your glorious pictures of beautiful scenery, candid moments with your friends, and your cat Fluffy. You can set up keywords for it to detect and it can even help you block those associated with those comments. It’s a breath of comment control. This app is new and growing and unquestionably worth the $3.

Technology is on the rise and taking over educational institutions, so keep a look out for more apps that can help you down your path of success.

Leading Latina: Rosa Rios Valdez

Written by Prakriti Bhardwa

rosa_rios_valdezThe passion that Rosa Rios Valdez has for economic development is astounding. For the last 24 years, Rosa has worked tirelessly to build BCL of Texas, a statewide nonprofit, from the ground up, helping establish BCL as one of Texas’s most prominent lenders and non-profit organizations.

She was there from the beginning, when there were only two employees in a former bank building, to today when that huge office now seems a little too small for the fast growing staff. By the time Rosa Rios Valdez was asked to lead BCL of Texas and become CEO, she had already had many years of experience in economic development.

By closely shadowing her managers and mentors, Rosa was able to gain the real life experience that many young adults lack and ultimately hope for. “I realized that I liked learning about entrepreneurs, learning about their business and their stories, and about their expansions,” said Rosa. “I was very lucky that all my bosses pushed me to take every opportunity that came my way. They also provided me with many ways to show and build my leadership skills in the economic development field.”

It wasn’t Rosa’s idea to start BCL of Texas, it was just something that came her way. She had been working in the economic development branch of a Central Texas utilities company, Rosa noticed that there wasn’t much of an SBA loan presence in these small rural towns she was visiting. After making note of this, Rosa mentioned this to the administration. They listened to her observation and followed up with her.

“They called me in a meeting in the office and pushed an envelope towards me,” said Rosa. “Inside the envelope was an application to start a small CDC. They told me that I was right, they didn’t have a presence in these small towns and they wanted me to lead this new venture. I gave the envelope back; it wasn’t something I had envisioned myself doing. I thanked them for the opportunity. However, I thought about it, and well, that was 24 years ago. It’s been very good.”

Throughout the years, the job hasn’t gotten any easier, but Rosa doesn’t mind. Being available to families, communities, businesses, small towns and civic leaders are all in a day’s work. “With BCL of Texas, we were regional and now we are state-wide,” said Rosa.

“So I would say that my job is harder now. We have hundreds of communities that we are responsible for assisting and huge regions of Texas that we serve. So the job is extremely demanding and you need to know and correctly represent the priorities of each of these small towns that BCL serves.” Rosa gets her inspiration from not only the people she surrounds herself with, but mainly through her passion for helping others and her commitment to helping local businesses and families. “I want to be a leader to the people around me and I want them to see the dedication that I put into the projects and people that come to us,” said Rosa. “I want to inspire and help them see how important it is to be dedicated to a cause and to push through any difficulties they may have.”

Being CEO isn’t a job that just anyone can do. The leader and face of the company has to have many different skill sets and has to be very adaptable to their surroundings and the people that they interact with. This tractability is something Rosa feels is important for a successful company. “You have to be extremely organized and you never know what a customer will need, what kind of call is going to come in,” said Rosa. “You always have to make sure that you know everything about what’s going on with the company. You have to be very focused on deadlines. You also have to be a great listener.” Another thing that Rosa appreciates is her staff. While her job continues to become more work-load heavy, she knows that she can rely on the people around her to pick up projects and things that she may not be able to. “What makes it work and the factor that pulls everything together is having skilled staff that can perform in all lines of business,” said Rosa. “A great staff can provide quality customer service and skills to help all BCL customers. That’s what makes the job a little easier.”

Being accustomed to such a fast paced and busy lifestyle, it seems that Rosa never has time to slow down. She never envisioned being CEO would mean having a job that carried over the 8-5 time frame. Working longer hours gets tough, but it’s something that Rosa is passionate about so she doesn’t necessarily mind. “I left a big organization with wonderful benefits to join a much smaller nonprofit,” said Rosa. “But the mission and the cause fit me. I have no regrets. It’s been wonderful.”

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!

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