Conferences Attended: Teaching Developmental and First Year Composition to Latin@s in the Community College

Mannequins at a pattern making class at the college where I teach. (Photo by DMG)

Mannequins at a pattern making class at the college where I teach. (Photo by DMG)

Part of my research project this year includes attending key conferences where I can cull information about Latin@ culture specific pedagogy. Following are descriptions of the conferences and sessions I have attended and highlights of significant lessons I learned.

4-6 October 2014, Denver, Colorado: Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) 28th Annual Conference: Championing Hispanic Higher Education Success–Investing in America’s Future

This major three day conference has various objectives, the most relevant and related to my project being to discuss emerging trends in higher education affecting Hispanics and Hispanic Serving Institutions, for instance distance learning, student-centered learning, and outcomes assessment. I focused on Track 3: “Academic Success for Hispanic Students, Research and Practice,” particularly the sessions that addressed exemplary practices on teaching and learning at HSIs, and on current research about Hispanic academic success. These are the six sessions I attended:

“Research and Theory-based Interventions to Increase Achievement and Success for Hispanic/Latin@ College Students”

Presented by Thomas Brown, Managing Principal, Thomas Brown & Associates; Dr. Mario Rivas, Professor of Psychology, Merritt College; Dr. Jose Leyba, Executive Coach and Search Consultant.

Presenters emphasized that professional development for faculty and staff is essential to increasing success for Hispanic/Latin@ students. They described the status of Hispanic/Latin@s in higher education and described what educators must know, understand and do in order to increase student engagement, learning, and persistence. Presenters commented on effective theory and research-based strategies and interventions (e.g., reducing stereotype threat, reframing attributions, Learned Optimism) and offered two models for sharing responsibility with students.

“Factors of Academic Persistence – Undergraduate Hispanic Nontraditional Students at HSIs”

Presented by Dr. Floralba Arbelo-Marrero, Program Director and Curriculum Developer, Carlos Albizu University.

The presenter reviewed recent research she conducted at two Hispanic Serving Institutions in the Southeast U.S. on factors that impact the academic persistence of undergraduate Hispanic nontraditional students. By using a phenomenological design and implementing an ecological and sociocultural theoretical framework findings indicated that family context, personal aspirations, campus environment within Hispanic Serving Institutions, life challenges, and English language learning all play a vital role in the persistence behaviors of this population.

“Supporting Undocumented Students in their Journey to College”

Presented by Leticia Trevino, College Advisor, Denver Scholarship Foundation; Gabe Guindon, College Advisor, Denver Scholarship Foundation.

This session reviewed the demographics and fundamental condition of the undocumented student population, and identified some ways they can be supported, including providing academic and emotional support.

“Increasing Competitiveness of First Generation Community College Students Pursuing a STEM Degree”

Presented by Armando Rivera-Figueroa, Associate Professor of Chemistry, MESA Director, East Los Angeles College; Consuelo Gonzalez, Bakersfield College.

Presenters reported on MESA, the Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement program at the California Community Colleges that serves underrepresented minorities, and facilitates student success in transfer and completion of a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field. MESA implements a comprehensive approach to the concept of a learning community, providing a variety of academic support and enrichment opportunities enhancing, and therefore ensuring, student success for low-income and first-generation college students to succeed in STEM.

“One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Knowing and Serving Hispanic Millennials”

Mokina Son presenting.

Monika Son presenting. (Photo by DMG)

Presented by Nancy Velazquez Torres, Associate Professor, Chair/Director and Monika Son, Counseling Coordinator and Lecturer at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

This presentation identified generational differences between Hispanic Millennials and others that are important to note in order to retain and support Latin@ students. Presenters discussed how their program has modified its curriculum and interventions to serve the Latin@ population. They shared their successes and challenges while providing students with academic support, counseling, group interventions and culturally responsive pedagogy.

“Hispanic Student Success in Higher Education through Peer Support”

Presented by Joseph P. Sánchez, PhD Candidate, University of New Mexico, and students Elizabeth Cuna, Demetrius Gloster, Senaida Garcia.

This presentation described the Project for New Mexico Graduates of Color, a student led organization at the University of New Mexico that supports underrepresented students by engaging them and providing social, academic, leadership, and mentorship programming. PNMGC contributes to Hispanic student success through building peer-based support networks, student-driven practices, and mentoring communities that address the unique needs of students of color in academia.

Lessons Learned at HACU:

A slide from one of the presentations.

A slide from one of the presentations.

  • California State University is the largest system of senior higher education in the United States. It serves approximately 447,000 students and employs 45,000 faculty and staff. 33.4% of all their students are Hispanic; 15.2% of all their faculty are Hispanic.
  • 1 in 5 Millenials is Hispanic.
  • Millennial Latin@ women are more culturally connected than millennial men.
  • 61% of Millenial Latin@s are bilingual.
  • It’s crucial that we change what we believe about Latin@ students–that we combat stereotypes.
  • If we are to teach Latin@s, we must educate ourselves about their lives, histories and various contexts.
  • We must disaggregate data; we must consider the differences among Latin@s.
  • We must affirm/validate Latin@ students’ knowledge and experiences.
  • We must emphasize/develop community and collaboration.
  • We must view Latin@ students holistically: mind, body, spirit, academic.
  • Get students actively and personally involved in their learning/hands-on/experiential learning.
  • Include/emphasize critical inquiry and activism.
  • Build confidence, self-awareness, motivation, personal aspirations.
  • Deliver content in various modes to reach multiple learning styles.
  • Develop trust/establish safe spaces in and out of the physical/virtual classroom (“pocket of possibility” as Michelle Fine terms it)/reduce “threats of stereotypes” as Claude M. Steele terms it.
  • Provide support for real life social/personal/academic challenges.
  • Create campus infrastructure that is knowledgeable about Latin@s, welcoming, supportive.
  • Provide robust English language learning and development opportunities.
  • Provide extra free support (e.g., face-to-face and online tutors, loaned computers, peer mentoring).
  • Provide opportunities to develop leadership skills and networking.
  • Maintain consistent curricular and co-curricular opportunities for all students to learn about Latin@s.
  • Build upon the specific types of resiliency that Latin@s bring to the classroom.
  • Offer opportunities/needs that may be unrecognized by the students (e.g., teaching financial literacy).
  • Regarding the teaching of writing in college specifically:
    • Include every day kinds of writing (not just academic types).
    • Focus content on every day issues relevant to them.
    • Consider English language learning/development as both an asset and an impediment.
13 and 14 November 2014, Napa Valley College in Napa, California: In Lak’Ech Xican@ Institute for Teaching and Organizing (XITO)

This two day conference (really, it was a  training session) was led by the following three educators who can also be seen here historicizing the reason they joined to form the Institute for Teaching and Organizing; they are:

  • Dr. Anita E. Fernández, a faculty member in the Education Program of the Resident Degree Program at Prescott College (for “the Liberal Arts,  Environment, and Social Justice”) in Tucson, Arizona, a private non-profit institution that is almost 50 years old and serves about 1,200 students, 81% of them white. She is also a faculty member of the Masters of Arts Program in Social Justic and human Rights, and is the co-founder and director of the Xican@ institute for Teaching and Organizing.
  • Sean Arce, an activist, educator, co-founder and former director of the K-12 Mexican American Studies (MAS) program that was dismantled in 2012 by Arizona’s Tucson Unified School District and ultimately banned in May 2013 after Federal Judge Wallace Tashima upheld the constitutionality of HB 2281 (the legislation that makes ethnic studies programs illegal in Arizona). Shortly after TUSD fired him, Mr. Arce was honored at the National Council for the Social Studies Conference in Seattle with the Zinn Education Project’s Myles Horton Award, which recognized “his instrumental role in nurturing one of the most significant and successful public school initiatives on the teaching of history in the United States.”
  • José Gonzalez, a twenty-plus year veteran teacher in the Tucson Unified School District, now teaching 6th grade World History, and working with XITO. He implements a “Xican@ Critical Race Pedagogy” grounded in indigenous Maya epistemology.
The first session. (Photo by DMG)

The first session. (Photo by DMG)

In the Maya language, the phrase/greeting “In Lak’Ech Xican” means “you are the other me/I am the other you”; this philosophy of interpersonal responsibility drives XITO. XITO is an activist organization that is a response to current events in the state of Arizona. Essentially, this is the story: since the early 2000s, two of the educators listed above, Sean Arce and José Gonzalez, were teaching K-12 classes in the Tucson Unified School District. Arce led the effort to develop and implement a Mexican American Studies Program, based on a blend of In Lak’Ech philosophy and critical pedagogy. For thirteen years, MAS serviced almost 6,500 students (5,726 Latin@ and 712 non-Latin@). The program was evaluated and deemed to be successful in increasing students’ rate of persistence, success, graduation from high school and transfer to college. Arce and other teachers attributed the success of the program to the Mexican American Studies-focused curricula and the teachers’ training in Latin@-specific culturally responsive pedagogy.

But in 2006, Tom Horne, the state’s Superintendent of Public Education at the time, began a campaign to eliminate MAS from the Tucson Unified School District. By 2010, MAS was under full attack by Arizona conservatives who claimed that MAS was “brainwashing” children to “hate white people” and turn them into “aggressive anti-Americans.” The Arizona legislature passed HB 2281, a law banning courses that promote the overthrow of the US government or advocate ethnic solidarity. By 2012, after being threatened with losing about $14 million of its annual state funding, the Tucson Unified School District school board complied and shut MAS. Classes were discontinued; books were confiscated and banned (including Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed).

Consequently, with the support of Dr. Anita E. Fernández at Prescott College, Arce, Gonzalez and several other teachers convened the Xican@ Institute for Teaching and Organizing (XITO)–their vision being to “fill a gap in Xican@ schooling for students and practitioners” and to train teachers in pedagogy and practices “steeped in Xican@ indigenous epistemology.” Their website and pamphlet affirms their vision: “There are a lack of opportunities for teachers to improve their practices in meeting the needs of students of color through culturally responsive, authentic and research based methodology. The Xican@ Institute for Teaching and Organizing is an urban educational institute that will fill a gap in Xican@/Latin@ schooling for students and practitioners with the goal of impacting future education policy.” Their mission is says: “Xito strives to support the Xican@/Latin@ community through teacher preparation, social justice pedagogy, and community organizing. Xito’s practices are steeped in Xican@ indigenous epistemology which drives the intentions, structures, and practices of the institute.”

Here is the poem students recite, in some Tucson classrooms, at the beginning of their school day; it is part of a longer poem, “Pensamiento Serpentino,” inspired by the Mayan-Quiche origin myth, El Popol Vuh, and written in 1971 by Chicano playwright and founder of El Teatro Campesino Luis Valdez.

In Lak’ech

 (I Am You or You Are Me)

Tú eres mi otro yo.

                  You are my other me.

Si te hago daño a ti,

                If I do harm to you,

Me hago daño a mi mismo. 

   I do harm to myself.

Si te amo y respite,                 

 If I love and respect you,

Me amo y respeto yo.              

I love and respect myself.

The conference sessions I attended were meant to engage participants in the theories, philosophy, pedagogy, and methodologies that underpinned the success of the former Mexican American Studies Program in Tucson. The documentary film, Precious Knowledge, chronicles the story of the MAS program in Tucson.

IMG_2947“In Lak’Ech: Framing the Political Landscape and the Need for Activist-Oriented Pedagogy”

Presented by Dr. Anita Fernández

Notes:  In order to understand this political landscape, it is useful to screen the film titled Schooling the World: The White Man’s Last Burden (which is about how in the 19th century the US government attempted to replace Native American culture by forcing Native American children into government boarding schools). (This film is available for free on youtube.) Some of the impediments to Latin@ students’ success include:

  • Latin@ students don’t “drop out” of high school or college; they are “pushed out.”
  • The high “school-to-prison pipeline” is more robust than the high school to college pipeline. (The highest money-maker in Arizona is the private prison system–a system making its money off Latin@’s condition.)
  • Teachers have little understanding, awareness or connection to Latin@ students’ everyday lives.
  • Students have to deal with relentless hardships and stressors (e.g., low income, undocumented status, having to be on the defensive, feeling attacked/besieged).
  • Underequipped classrooms (e.g., lack of technology, updated buildings).
  • Faculty is untrained to deal with the specifics of Latin@ students.
  • Onus for failure is automatically assigned to students.
  • Effect, as in the result of eliminating Tucson’s MSA program and of banning certain books, of “this cannot be taught” attitude from politicians and others.

“Los Cuatro Tezcatlipocas–The Nahui Ollin: Pedagogy, Organizing and Principles to Live By,” part 1

Presented by José González.


José González presenting. (Photo by DMG)


  1. Teachers/professors–especially those who are Latin@–must be aware of their own ethnic identities.
  2. They must be willing to reconcile trauma in self, family, educational process, ethnic group/community, country…
  3. They must be willing to confront, understand, reconcile their own insecurities and how they affect their teaching.
  4. They must be attentive to the “hummingbird to the left”/the heart!

“Los Cuatro Tezcatlipocas–The Nahui Ollin: Pedagogy, Organizing and Principles to Live By,” part 2

Notes: The previous two sessions focused on showing teachers how to inhabit a Mayan world view, so that they can enact those Mayan principles with students in and out of the classroom.

Presented by Sean Arce.

IMG_2948“Tezcatlipoca and Quetzalcoatl In The Classroom: Knowing Ourselves, Our Students, And Our Community”

Presented by Sean Arce

Notes: The emphasis in this presentation was on building students’ Xicano identity, “la cultura,” and to develop “conciencia” (in the Freirean critical theory tradition)–the aim being to “decolonize” and “humanize” students and faculty by way of revealing and instilling a Xicano indigenous/Maya epistemology.

“Classrooms as Sites of Resistance (3rd Spaces)”
Presented by José Gonzalez.



  • It is crucial to understand and remember that, as Freire and Fanon have written, the pathology of colonization is depersonalization.
  • Colonization silences and erases, autonomy, culture and individual self.

“Decolonizing the Classroom: Strategies For Writing and Literature Instruction Facilitator”

Presented by Anita Fernández

A graph of data compiled by Sean Arce.

A graph of data compiled by Sean Arce.

Notes: Some of the strategies include:

  • Asking pointed open-ended questions to help students understand history/context from the “colonized” and “colonizer” points of view.
  • Identifying egregious infractions perpetrated on the colonized.
  • Excavating and highlighting the history of Xicanos, particularly their personal stories, acts of resistance and courage.
  • Deliberately and clearly enculturating students in indigenous/Maya epistemology.
  • Recuperating and affirming indigenous personal names.
  • Making sure that class is designed and content is delivered in various modes, so teachers can reach students with all kinds of learning needs.
  • Making sure that there are multiple ways of assessing students.
  • Using literature by and about Xicanos.
  • Using literature and readings that are relevant to students.

“Culturally Responsive Pedagogy in Action: The War on Mexico and Its Contemporary Implications

Presented by Sean Arce

Lessons Learned at XITO: 

  • Teaching itself must enact activist/decolonizing/liberatory practices.
  • Pedagogy in general, and culturally responsive pedagogy specifically, is contextual and teachers need to be aware and responsive to those contexts.
  • Because most Mexican Americans have been intellectually colonized, curricula and pedagogy at every level must center on building a strong positive indigenous ethnic identity, an understanding of the disparities created by racism, how racism itself is constructed, how it impacts individuals’ lives, and more importantly how to resist and combat it.
  • Curricula must be infused with relevant literature and texts by and about Chicanos, so that students can recognize themselves and empower themselves emotionally, intellectually, socially, and so they can work consciously toward self-actualization, and while they’re at it, so they can combat colonialist practices that homogenize them, that erase their names, cultural practices and languages.
  • Teachers must be trained in culturally responsive pedagogy; they must think of themselves as agents engaged in the work of social justice.
  • It is imperative to enact high student engagement in order to build multiple personal and academic affirming skills.
  • It is crucial to ground curricula in student’s lives, to treat students as intellectuals, to help them imagine themselves as activists and workers for social justice, to motivate and move them toward self awareness, self-determination, and meaningful connection to larger communities.
  • It is important to create shared experiences (in and out of the classroom) that help to build autonomy, self-awareness, and leadership skills.
  • José Gonzalez calls the above “Barrio/humanizing Pedagogy.”

Note to myself:

I agree that today Xicanos (and Latin@s in general) are impacted by the long-term effects of imperialism, colonialism, exploitation, manipulation, rape, domination, relegation to the margins, denial of civil, economic and other rights, and victimization at the very least by way of stereotyping and slurring. But… the culture-specific pedagogical approach described during this conference is very interesting yet very problematic for me as a Latin@ who is not Xicana. I walked away from this conference affirmed in my belief that effective pedagogy, for any ethnic group, is contextual and must, therefore, be responsive to the particularities of individual students. I want to call the approach described in this conference “Xicano pedagogy”–but only ONE kind of Xicano. Certainly, it’s not “Latin@,” not if you define the label “Latin@” and/or “Hispanic” as being inclusive of the various groups: Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Guatemalans, Argentinians, etc. They are as different from each other as day and night; not even language coheres them. What does cohere these groups is the imposed labeled “Latin@/Hispanic” in the United States (and outside the US, that label is not perceived in the same way). Thus, the culture-specific pedagogy described at this conference might be excellent for the particular “Mexican American/Xicano/Chicano-a” condition in Tucson, but not necessarily for the condition of other Latin@s anywhere else. It is myopic to think otherwise.

I walked away from the presentations with this list of thoughts:

  • The presenters’ methodology and content seemed oblivious to the reality that they themselves are products of what they call “colonialism”–intellectually and in many other ways.
  • Occasionally interjecting words in Spanish and Maya does not constitute a pedagogy.
  • In excavating an indigenous epistemology, in their case Mayan, they elide the histories and influences of various other components, among them other indigenous groups and the United States and Spain’s own contributions to the making of contemporary “Xicano” identity and condition.
  • It is dangerous and narrow to blame, or only point to, colonialism as the culprit for the condition of Xicanos and Latin@s. It’s disempowering!
  • Resistance to colonization, to a “white way of life and being,” remained undefined even at the end of the last session.
  • Resistance to an “erasure” of “Xicanoness” remained defined as soley Mayan.
  • Resistance to the US remained the emphasis; little was discussed about Spaniard or any other colonialism perpetrated (other than the refrain I heard several times: “We have been colonized and raped for 500 plus years”).
  • All of those stances seem reductive to me.
  • But… a new study affirms that MAS raised students’ achievement:”The Arizona legislature passed HB 2281, which eliminated Tucson Unified School District’s (TUSD’s) Mexican American Studies (MAS) program, arguing the curriculum was too political. This program has been at the center of contentious debates, but a central question has not been thoroughly examined: Do the classes raise student achievement? The current analyses use administrative data from TUSD (2008–2011), running logistic regression models to assess the relationship between taking MAS classes and passing AIMS (Arizona state standardized tests) and high school graduation. Results indicate that MAS participation was significantly related to an increased likelihood of both outcomes occurring. The authors discuss these results in terms of educational policy and critical pedagogy as well as the role academics can play in policy formation” (Abstract of “Missing the [Student Achievement] Forest for All the [Political] Trees: Empiricism and the Mexican American Studies Controversy in Tucson“).
  • Decades after first reading this passage, I am still moved by Paulo Freire’s words:

The great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed [is]: to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well. The oppressors, who oppress, exploit, and rape by virtue of their power, cannot find in this power the strength to liberate either the oppressed or themselves. Only the power that springs from the weakness of the oppressed will be sufficiently strong to free you.

Friday 27 February 2015, San Francisco State University, CA: Latino Students in Higher Education: Identifying Critical Issues and New Possibilities at Bay Area Universities

Banner photo from the conference flyer/announcement.

The César E. Chávez Institute (CCI) is a multi-ethnic research center “committed to socially engaged scholarship and community action. Their research “examines institutional barriers to student success using both quantitative and qualitative methods”; it attempts to answer these key questions:

  • What are the characteristics, attitudes and experiences of Latino/a students?
  • How do Latino/a students feel about their campus?
  • Do they feel differently than other students?
  • Do they have different levels of engagement?
  • What factors are associated with poor student retention?
  • Is there a correlation between the student experience on campus and their educational achievement?
  • What resources and programs are available to serve Latino/a students?
  • What are best practices at other campuses with similar populations and structures?

In addition to conducting research, CCI engages the SFSU campus and “the larger community in dialogue around how to move beyond the current deficiency framework and instead focus on fostering institutional change, building upon Latino/a students’ social and academic capital.”

CCI launched the Latino Educational Advancement Partnership (LEAP) “as an advocacy and research initiative to promote the advancement of Latino students in higher education.” LEAP aims to “engage Bay Area post-secondary institutions in a regional dialogue about how best to serve Latino students. This dialogue is informed by a data collection effort” that recognizes the “barriers to college enrollment, persistence and completion,” identifies “promising practices for improving services,” and makes “recommendations to increase educational success and degree attainment, with particular attention on what is being called the ‘vanishing Latino male in higher education’.”


Photo by DMG.


Photo by DMG.

I attended LEAP’s one day very productive forum, “Latina/o Students in Higher Education: Identifying Critical Issues and New Possibilities at Bay Area Universities.” The intent for the day was to engage dialogue, share information, and reflect on “the many factors that help and hinder Latino students from attaining the educational goals that further their well-being,” including the socioeconomic health of Latinos particularly in the Bay Area. LEAP’s “hope” is to use this one day forum as a kickoff to  “begin to generate a plan for community action on Latina/o college degree attainment.”

A packed room of interested participants. (Photo by LEAP staff member.)

A packed room of interested participants.
(Photo by LEAP staff member.)

Here is the agenda:

8:15 Registration & Continental Breakfast

9:00 Welcome & Establishing Goals for the Day

9:30 “Equity Mindedness in Higher Education: Becoming an Institutional Change Agent”: Prof. Estela Bensimon, Co-Director, Center for Urban Education at the University of Southern California

10:30 “Latinos in Higher Ed in the San Francisco Bay Area: A Case Study at SF State”: Prof. Belinda I. Reyes, Director, César E Chávez Institute and Professor of Latina/Latino Studies, SF State University

11:30 Student Focus: Jessica Iniguez and Veronica Garcia speak about their experiences as undocumented students

11:45 Working Lunch/Group Session: “Setting Priorities for Latinos in San Francisco”

1:20 “Understanding the Disenfranchisement of Men of Color in Higher Education”: Prof. Aida Hurtado, Luis Leal Endowed Professor of Chicana/o Studies, University of California, Santa Bárbara.

2:20 Student Focus: Yosimar Reyes and Bryan Rojas Arauz speak about their experiences as undocumented students

2:45 “From Microaggressions to Community Cultural Wealth: Insights for Intellectually Engaging Latina/o University Students”: Prof. Marcos Pizarro, Coordinator, MAESTR@S and the Institute for Teachers of Color Committed to Racial Justice at San José State University.

3:45 Large Group Work Session: “Developing an Action Plan for Latino College Attainment”

4:45 Closing Remarks

(Photo taken by LEAP staff member.)

Audience members listening attentively. (Photo taken by LEAP staff member.)

Three well-known speakers headlined the day:

1192Estela Mara Bensimon, Ed.D.

Dr. Bensimon’s current research is on racial equity in higher education from the perspective of organizational learning and socio-cultural practice theories, particularly place-based, practitioner-driven inquiry for organizational change. She views inequality in higher education as a problem of institutional practices, structures, and policies. Dr. Bensimon is a professor of higher education and and founder and co-director of the Center for Urban Education (CUE) at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education.  CUE’s goal under her leadership is to produce academic research about the importance of equity and equity-mindedness in higher education, and to create tools for practitioners that lead to equitable student outcomes. Her work has resulted in the development of the signature Equity Scorecard, a unique tool that is informed by theories of organizational learning, practice theory, and participatory critical action research methods, and a strategy of equity-minded change.

The title of her talk: “Equity Mindedness in Higher Education: Becoming an Agent for Institutional Change.” Professor Bensimon spoke about the Equity Scorecard, the importance of being intentional about equity, and the strategies needed to build an “equity minded” campus.

1199-1Aída Hurtado, Ph.D.

Dr. Hurtado is a Luis Leal Endowed Professor and current faculty member of the Department of Chicana/o Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Prior work experience includes working for the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she helped develop the Social Psychology Graduate Program, with an emphasis on social justice and multidisciplinary methods. Dr. Hurtado is a past chair of the National Association for Chicana/Chicano Studies. She has written several books and is the recipient of the 2014 Outstanding Latino/a Faculty in Higher Education Award. Professor Hurtado’s co-authored book, Beyond Machismo: Intersectional Understandings of Latino Feminist Masculinities (University of Texas Press, forthcoming), focuses on the struggles and successes of young Latino men as they navigate the halls of higher education.


Photo by DMG.

The title of her talk: “Men of Color in Higher Education.” Professor Hurtado spoke about her recent work, including the edited book Invisible No MoreUnderstanding the Disenfranchisement of Latino Men and Boys. She reviewed the original research and new theoretical paradigms that examine and explain the severe social, educational, and economic disadvantages, hardships, and vulnerabilities experienced by Latino men and boys — ones that include high dropout rates, disproportionate levels of incarceration, and their concentration in low wage jobs. Through the application of the theoretical framework of intersectionality, she examined the ways in which race, class, sexuality, ethnicity and gender interact to marginalize Latino men and boys in the United States and to severely limit their life chances.

Angelina Loyola, Carlos Navarette, Marco PizarroMarcos Pizarro, Ph.D.

Marcos Pizarro teaches at San José State University. He received his B.A. in Urban Studies from Stanford and his Ph.D. from UCLA’s Graduate School of Education. Pizarro works with Chicana/o students at various stages in their schooling and tries to understand how interventions can help these students develop strategies to succeed in school and create social justice in their communities.

Dr. Pizarro’s work explores the relationship between the identities of Chicana/o students and their academic performance. Currently, he coordinates MAESTR@S, a social justice organization developing and implementing a transformative education model in Latin@ communities. He also works with schools on the development and implementation of Latina/o Studies curricula, and is co-coordinator of the Institute for Teachers of Color Committed to Racial Justice.


Photo by DMG.

The title of his talk: “”From Microaggressions to Community Cultural Wealth: Insights for Intellectually Engaging Latina/o University Students.” He shared a framework that breaks down the ways in which race shapes the schooling experiences of many Latina/o students, deconstructing racial microaggressions and racial battle fatigue. As a counterpoint, Marcos mapped out the resources and strengths that Latinas/os bring into the university and how this Community Cultural Wealth can be tapped into as a means toward college success. The ultimate focus of the talk was to demonstrate the ways in which universities can engage Latina/o students and, in so doing, enhance the intellectual complexity of the university community.


Photo by DMG.

Notes/Lessons Learned at “Latino Students in Higher Education: Identifying Critical Issues and New Possibilities at Bay Area Universities”:

  • Latinos, African Americans, American Indians, and Asian/Pacific Islanders have gained greater access to higher education since the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. However, increased access has not translated into equity in BA attainment.
  • The Bay Area has experienced dramatic growth in the Latino population: one in four residents is now Latino; more Latinos than ever are trying to gain access to higher education.
  • Latinos represent half the growth in the Bay Area region since 2000.
  • By 2010 one of every four Bay Area residents was Latino.
  • By 2050, 80% of the labor force will be Latino.
  • Latinos’ education is crucial for the US economy.
  • In CA there are about 842 students per one counselor: that’s a barrier to Latinos’ progress, a barrier rooted in the system.
  • Because of this increased Latino population, more institutions of higher learning are qualifying to become Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs).
  • This federal designation opens up opportunities for significant federal funding to support Latino students’ needs.
  • But HSIs currently lack a process and a system of accountability to engage Latino students beyond enrollment.
  • Though Latinos are enrolling in HSIs at increasing rates, they still hold low rates of college completion.
  • In 2009-2010, 21 percent of Latinos had an associate degree or higher, compared to 57 percent of Asians, 44 percent of Whites, and 30 percent of Blacks.
  • Latinos still experience a significant gap in degree attainment (as documented in “Latina/o Students in Higher Education: Identifying Critical Issues and New Possibilities at Bay Area Universities, A Portrait of San Francisco State, Executive Summary done by the Latina/o Educational Achievement Partnership at The CCI):
    • Nationwide, 41 percent of all adults earned an associate’s degree or higher.
    • The figure for Latino adults is 21 percent.
    • In CA 11 percent of Latinos have earned a bachelor’s degree compared to 30 percent for all adults.
  • Latinos are the largest population of color enrolled in the US and in California’s postsecondary educational system.
  • In California, Latinos are the majority of K-12 public school students and they are the fastest growing segment of college-age students in the state.
  • in the Bay Area, Latino students have grown faster than any other racial and ethnic group.
  • In 2013 over a third of K-12 students were Latino.
  • Keeping with this trend, Latino students more than doubled at Bay Area CA State University campuses in the last decade.
  • A survey reveals that participants in this conference believe that the following is necessary in order to create a relevant experience and campus environment for Latinos:
    • mentorship/support
    • teaching tools (i.e., community service learning, internships, innovative pedagogy)
    • Latino culture on campus (i.e., ethnic programs, Latino clubs, Latino resource centers, Latino events, speakers, architecture and landscapes that reflect Latino culture)
    • engaging families/creating communities
    • welcoming environment (i.e., spaces for Latinos to feel a sense of home)
    • educating prospective students, families, faculty and staff
    • pathways that support Latinos through transfer, and careers such as teaching
  • “Familism” matters a great deal to Latinos; that must be taken into account when considering their educational success.
  • IMPACTION: for Latinos, social and cultural capital is the “know-how” about college; that needs to be developed in order to increase their educational success, including
    • building college readiness
    • building confidence
    • understanding and combating Latinos’ “impostor syndrome”
    • decreasing internalized deficiencies
    • decreasing discrimination and stereotypes
    • providing employment opportunities on campus
    • decreasing barriers to class availability
    • increasing student support and counseling
    • machismo: consider that a more accurate term is “gender anxiety” or “patriarchy”
    • understanding/combating the cumulative effect of “racial/ethnic battle fatigue” and micro aggressions (e.g., Angloizing Latinos’ names, assuming that not speaking English is a deficiency, assuming that they’re not smart and that they don’t belong in higher education, gender stereotypes and inequities [women will leave higher ed for home duties], asking one Latino to speak for/represent the experiences of ALL Latinos
    • acknowlege/understand/use the reality that Latinos’ stories ARE their capital wealth
  • It’s imperative to note that fewer Latinos participate in high impact practices, for instance community service, participating in co-curricular activities on campus, study abroad, one-on-ones with faculty and administrators.
  • It’s imperative to note and to address that Latinos are not asking for help.
  • Campus climate and experiencing discrimination, however subtle, hinders Latinos’ educational success: that needs to be a mantra.
  • The percentage of tenured and tenure-track Latino faculty must be increased.
  • There are significant barriers, largely unrecognized, that are silently impeding Latino students from accessing, staying in, and graduating from four year universities, especially.
  • There are four major topics that must be considered when addressing the needs of Latinos in higher education:
    • ensuring college affordability
    • creating a relevant educational experience and campus environment
    • engaging families and communities
    • maintaining access for local Latinos
  • We must make a greater effort to stop addressing the condition of Latinos from the deficiency model!
  • It is imperative that we “turn the mirror on us,” on higher education and how WE have failed Latinos; we must ask and find answers to how and why we have failed Latinos.
  • We must flip our thinking of Latinos as being the “minority” to being the “majority.”
  • We must stop perpetuating social isolation, stop segregating Latinos in schools.
  • We must examine how and why 72% of Latinos attend open access institutions and Community Colleges.
  • We must remediate practices and structures, not students.
  • Remember that racial inequality is a structural–not cultural–problem.
  • Acknowledge and understand that equity has to be measured in excellence (for instance, how many Latinos are partaking in STEM and study abroad?)
  • Remember that diversity does not equal equity and that equality does not equal equity!
  • Change requires that faculty be agents of change on the ground.
  • Examine how/why after instituting compensatory programs we still have inequity;
  • Review AAC&U’s “American’s Unmet Promise: The Imperative for Equity in Higher Education.”
  • Review Engaging the Race Question: Accountability and Equity in US Higher Education by Alicia C. Dowd and Estela Mara Bensimon.
  • Review “Familism as a political strategy” by Maxine Baca Zinn (e.g., “Familism Among Chicanos: A Theoretical Review“).
  • Review AAC&U’s Growing Knowledge about What Works for Latino Student Success, fall 2014.

Photo by DMG.


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