Latina Students Shine

Two Chicano-Boricua Studies students prevent research in Washington, D.C.

Megan Whalen / For The South End

Each year, 30 young scholars are chosen to participate in the Summer Institute for Latino Public Policy in Washington, D.C. Angela Gallegos, 22, and Amanda Jacob, 20 – both undergraduate students in the Wayne State Center for Chicano-Boricua Studies academic program – were selected to the event, which was held June 16-20.

The Inter-University Program for Latino Research sponsored the annual event to provide young Latinos-typically undergraduates of junior and senior status-with practical experience in public policy and leadership training.

Ethriam Brammer, assistant director of the CBS program, believed that the two students had to go through a “fairly rigorous” selection process.

“They are both students that worked with the center,” Brammer said. “They have worked with the faculty and administrative staff closely before they were selected and just showed the real commitment and determination that was necessary.”

Brammer, who has known the two students since he came to the CBS program, said participants usually work on their research projects for about a year to prepare for their presentation in Washington, D.C.

All of the participants of the SILPP were required to conduct original research and present a research project focusing on the Hispanic community. Gallegos and Jacob were given the liberty to choose their own topics, as long as it centered around the theme of public policy issues in education.

At the CBS center, Gallegos works as a peer mentor for incoming freshman and sophomores and Jacob works at the front desk.

Gallegos, a broadcast journalism major, said she based her educational research project on her love for media arts.

“I went to high schools in southwest Detroit to see if there was a need for better technology courses and to also see if these students had the desire to learn more about these advancements,” Gallegos said. “The research went well and it tied into the program’s education theme [of] how to shift policy changes towards that.”

Gallegos organized her research into a presentation titled “Urban Media Programs: An Overwhelming and Powerful Need.”

Jacob, a psychology major, spent her time researching the assimilation of young Mexican-American women into U.S. society and whether the results were positive or negative. Her presentation was titled “Assimilation: Positive or Negative? The Self-Concept of Mexican Women.”

“My question was whether or not women of Mexican origin assimilating into United States culture from Mexican culture would be a good or a bad thing and how that makes a person feel,” Jacob said.

Joining Gallegos and Jacob were students from renowned international universities including the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of Arizona, the University of Texas, Florida International University and the University of Massachusetts.

In addition to sharing their own research findings, Gallegos and Jacob had the opportunity to attend seminars and workshops, and network in Capitol Hill with renowned leaders in the Hispanic community.

During their trip, they met with six-term congressman Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX), the chairman of the Education Task Force for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Gallegos admits that she was never too fond of politics until this trip, but later referred to her experience in D.C. as simply “amazing”.

“It was an unforgettable experience,” Jacob said. “I have 30 new people added on my [account on Facebook.com] now that I can really keep contact, network with and keep tabs with to see what we can do to help with Latinos around our community.”

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