My experience as a Latina has been more crucial to my college experience than I would have expected. In a predominately white school I was drawn even closer to my Latina identity. In high school and growing up, surrounded by Latinas, it was easy to define myself by things other than my race.
Starting college I realized that being Latina, a female minority, came first in the way others perceived me and the way I perceived myself. I was instantly approached by the Latino student group and became freshman rep that year and would later become co-chair. I was very passionate about Latino issues especially with the growing immigration controversy but I noticed being a part of that group was not a very extraordinary accomplishment. Due to the fact that my face, voice, hair etc. say Latina it was expected that I would be involved with the group. There is also a stigma towards people of color affiliated with racial groups. People automatically think it is self-segregating rather than the act of embracing ones culture in an environment where it is otherwise whitewashed away.
Being so focused on my identity in this way has not deterred my interests outside of racial issues. Instead they have been molded in a way that I had not expected. I was afraid that I would lose my roots in college being so far away from home but I feel more proud and aware of who I am. I am proud because I have learned so much more about Latin history, politics and culture inside and outside the classroom. One of my favorite classes was based on history of Latin America where I learned about the richness outside of my own place of origin. I am also a Latino/a Studies concentrator, which focuses on the transnational experiences of people from all over Latin Americans. I just returned from study abroad in India, Senegal and Argentina and in Argentina I was able to explore a Latin American nation different from my own and learn from their culture.
Now as I am about to graduate I am able to reflect on my positive and negative experiences. Thus far, I have gained what I can call, identity awareness. As a college student being Latina I was able to question, reflect and resolve my identity. As far as future goals I want to further study Latin American history possibly in a grad school setting. But I will definitely be journeying to other Latin American countries in the future.