As a public school student in Pueblo, Colorado, I grew up witnessing the disparities that played out in education on the basis of race and class daily. The schools I attended were considered low-income and were vastly under-resourced. As students and youth, we were aware of the issues facing our community, but unfortunately also felt powerless to make any changes. As I looked around, I saw the criminalization of my community, the levels of drug abuse and the “other” alternatives many of my classmates took to cope with the situation. It was not until I began attending community college that I began to look deeper into the issues we were facing in our community, and became inspired to begin doing some sort of positive work in my community. After attending a Latino leadership conference, my drive heightened to new levels, and though I did not realize it at the time, my focus began to narrow on creating educational change.
Drawing my inspiration heavily from the fight for educational reform that took place during the Chicano Movement, I have continued to organize and work within the Chican@ community and with students. As an undergraduate here at the University of Colorado, I was heavily involved in student organizations like UMAS and MEXA, which focused on continuing to support the educational experiences of students in Chican@ and Latin@ communities. Shortly before my graduation from the Department of Ethnic Studies, I decided that a career in education would be the most effective means of creating change for students, and that decision has led me to the most recent stop on my journey here in the School Education. In addition to pursuing a Master’s Degree and working on recruitment in underrepresented communities on campus, I have had the opportunity to continue working on and developing the Aquetza: Youth Leadership, Education and Community Empowerment summer program as a joint effort with students involved in UMAS y MEXA and the School of Education. The program, which seeks to empower youth to become leaders and agents of social change in their communities and encourage their educational development, has been a powerfully motivating experience for myself and others to continue our work in education as our chosen field to create a more socially constructive and positive world.