Chicano faculty host symposium on first-gen students

By Anabel Arteaga

The California State University Chicano faculty took a break
from their busy schedules and attended their first Symposium on
Chicana/Latina issues. The event was held Friday in the Bronco
Student Center.

Approximately 150 students and faculty from different CSU
campuses visited Cal Poly, where they learned about different
faculty members’ research and engaged in several discussions about
the issues Chicanos face on CSU campuses.

“This conference was a great opportunity to present our work,
but this conference really doesn’t provide us enough time to sit
around and communicate with professors doing the similar work,”
said Gomez.

The conference was set up in several panels that examined the
college selection process of Chicanos who are first-generation
college students and currently enrolled at a predominately
Chicano/Latino state college.

The college selection process describes how students search for
colleges and prepare applications.

Miguel Ceja, an assistant professor at Sacramento State
University, focused on the interviews he used as his primary data
collection method. He interviewed 20 Chicana seniors attending an
inner-city high school in Los Angeles and said these girls are
scared and depend upon their peers for college advice.

“I admit that my peers play a huge role in my life,” said
Christina Saucedo, a second-year Spanish student. “I was scared on
my first day of school. I felt lost in which classes to take, and I
felt like I didn’t belong here. Now I am really glad that these
professors came today with clear information.”

The girls Ceja interviewed were all first-generation college
students from low-income families. Each participant was interviewed
three to six months after graduating from high school.

“It’s common for first-generation students to be nervous when it
comes to choosing a college because they are concerned who are they
going to attend with,” said Ceja.

“Most [Chicanos] are more concerned in the Latino population in
the school, but as we all know, there were small populations of
Latinos attending college back in the 1970s compared to now. That
percentage has increased.”

Jennifer Villegas, a second-year English student said she had
never attended anything like this before until Gomez, her ethnic
and women’s studies professor, made the event a requirement for the
class.

“I was very excited knowing that there are people that are
researching on things that I am interested in,” said Villegas. “I
know that one of my classes … exposed me to kind of know what’s
going on with the education.”

One of the panels also present in the symposium was called the
“Graduate Studied in Chicano Studies.”

Claudia Serrato, a graduate student in Chicano studies at Cal
State Los Angeles, spoke to the audience about her experiences
while going through school.

“It’s a wonderful idea that these professors and students are
displaying their work not only in the classroom, but also in what
they are doing in the community,” said Serrato. “I would have loved
to have something like this when I was attending school. That way
it would have been easier for me.”

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