Long Beach State Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) hosted its third annual Students of Color conference in the University Student Union (USU) ballrooms on Saturday, March 19.
The conference consisted of several events throughout the day, including keynote speakers, student panels, and workshops to encourage students from marginalized communities to embrace their identities and inspire them to be the change in society.
Two CSULB Dream Success Center (DSC) speakers, Norma Salinas and Fatima Zeferino hosted the workshop “UndocuAlly 101” where they shared their personal stories and encouraged students to find success by using DREAM campus resources.
Karina Guerrero, a third-year accounting major, said she found the workshop helpful as a recent transfer student and said the speakers did a really good job “explaining what the DREAM Center provides, what it is, and what it means to be an ally.”
“I felt like it was very informative, especially for students [who] aren’t aware of what our peers have to go through,” Guerrero said. “It was a really nice way to find out what resources there are for those students and how we could support [Dreamers as allies].”
Another student panel, “Redefining our Tomorrow,” was led by four CSULB students who shared their stories about immigration and discussed how they were inspired to overcome its difficulties.
Kate Gutierrez, a student panelist and Latinx Student Union representative explained what “Redefining our Tomorrow” meant to her and how it could improve future generations.
“I think one of the big pieces is we’re trying to break generational barriers that we currently have,” Gutierrez said. “One of the big things that contribute to breaking those barriers is offering resources to our younger generations as well.”
Latinx students often come from “low-income, multigenerational households with low wealth and savings,” and the “financial stakes of defaulting on a loan were much higher for all members of the family,” according to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s ‘Dreams Interrupted’ report.
Amanda Martinez, a senior policy analyst at UnidosUS and co-author of the report said the Latinx community’s youth value “higher education as evidenced by the growing share entering our higher education system.”
The report also presented how “scheduling, work and family obligations” are also contributing factors towards the generational barriers and ability for Latinx students “to complete their studies.”
“We must re-examine how we support our students and how we approach higher education as a whole to ensure that we are not making young Latinos choose between financial security and higher education,” Martinez said in the report.
Further, Gutierrez said she felt pressured by “her parents to finish school, and campus resources such as the Latinx Student Union have helped” with her success.
“These conversations may currently be taboo, but in reality, we should be having them in order to be able to strive and go into a better direction,” Gutierrez said.
Luis Ortiz, a first-year journalism major, said he heard about the Students of Color conference from the Latinx Resource Center and benefited from it.
“It was a great conference,” Ortiz said. “I feel like we should have a lot more students of color coming out because a lot of students benefit from this.”
Several organizations such as the Black Student Union (BSU), the Black Business Student Association (BBSA), South Asian, Middle Eastern, Arab, and North African and Friends (SAMEAN AF) Club, as well as the Latino Student Union, attended to invite students to join for educational opportunities.
Rue Cepeda, another student panelist and student representative of American Indian Studies, discussed the importance of representation and how the American Indian Studies department helped her feel included.
“I want students to have a [safe] space like me, and other minority students,” Cepeda said. “That’s what I hope to teach [other students] so they can go after their passions while still having a space in their academics.”