Valley College celebrates the addition of a Chicano Studies associate degree with an inaugural celebration on Dia de la Raza, Columbus Day.
Paul Rosenbusch, Staff Writer
Two guest speakers came to discuss the importance of heritage, history, and education and how they used their degrees in Chicano Studies to find careers that satisfy their personal and professional needs.
Raza Education, the Inaugural Celebration for the new Chicano Studies Associate Degree, filled Monarch Hall to the brim as Dr. Francisco Rodriguez and Monica Garcia both spoke and held a panel allowing students to ask about how they can use the new program to their benefit.
“We chose today because, historically, Mexico and other Latin American countries celebrate Dia De La Raza on October 12th, and we thought it would be appropriate that we celebrate and commemorate this day because it’s a 500-year history that we are discussing in Chicano Studies,” announced Professor Peter Lopez.
The event was sponsored by the LAVC Associated Student Union, as well as the Equity and Chicano Studies programs, and brought over 200 students and faculty into Monarch Hall midweek.
Wednesday, October 12th, celebrated by Latin American cultures as Dia de la Raza, is the day that Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas after sailing across the Pacific from Spain.
Peter Lopez, a professor of Sociology and Chicano Studies at Valley College, introduced the distinguished guests of honor, Dr. Francisco Rodriguez and Monica Garcia, who both majored in Chicano Studies.
“It is a wonderful interdisciplinary degree that serves as a foundation for people who want to get involved with any realm of life,” explained Dr. Francisco Rodriguez, the Chancellor of LACCD. “If you want to make an impact in this society, this is the perfect major for you.”
Dr. Rodriguez grew up in the Mission District of San Francisco and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Chicano Studies at University of California Davis.
“When I hear the words ‘Chicano Studies,’ I feel empowered, liberated, and invited to become a better and stronger person,” said LAUSD board member Monica Garcia. “What I think about most is self-determination and liberation, to be the America we all learned about in History.”
Raised in East Los Angeles to immigrant parents, Ms. Garcia graduated with a dual-major bachelor degree in both Chicano Studies and Political Science, and was elected to the LAUSD board in 2006.
Both guest speakers emphasized the importance of their Chicano Studies degree, and how it helped them overcome boundaries that exist for underprivileged people of all colors in America.
“We’ve reached Critical Mass. There’s no turning back now, we can’t fix the past, but we can fix what’s here now,” said Professor Lopez in the closing statement.