Latino USA

Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Instituto Familiar de la Raza

For many Latinos, mental health was once a taboo subject. But in the 1970’s, Dr. Concha Saucedo Martinez did her part to change that by founding the Instituto Familiar de la Raza in San Francisco’s Mission District. Dr. Saucedo revolutionized mental health practices by providing her clients with spiritual and culturally sensitive workshops and services. More importantly, she made therapy and psychiatric care more accessible and affordable to the Latino community in San Francisco.

Reporter Robynn Takayama profiles Dr. Concha Saucedo Martinez, as part of our series on Latinos and health.

Latino USA’s year-long look at Latinos and Health is made possible by funding from Pfizer Helpful Answers®, a family of patient assistance programs for the uninsured and underinsured who need help getting Pfizer medicines.


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Jimmy Smits

Jimmy Smits is a Broadway, TV and Movie actor, an Emmy-award winner, an Activist, a father and an “Aspirante.” This last title comes from “ASPIRA,” a nonprofit organization dedicated to Latino Youth founded by Dr. Antonia Pantoja and a group of Puerto Rican community leaders in 1961. The organization has helped over half a million young Latinos, also known as Aspirantes, with career and college counseling, financial aid and other assistance.  Currently 95% of them graduate high school and 92% continue on to college.

Last week ASPIRA celebrated its 50th Anniversary and honored some if its most successful Aspirantes, including Jimmy Smits who was recognized for his on and off screen accomplishments. Smits was born in Brooklyn, NY, moved to Puerto Rico when he was nine and lived there for a few years, became a father at the age of 18 but continued pursuing his dreams and got his Master’s degree from Cornell. Today he is one of the most recognized Latino actors and is a co-founder of another organization dedicated to help Latino youth follow their dreams — the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts (NHFA). Maria Hinojosa sat down with Smits to talk about his career, his activism and how ASPIRA has touched his life.

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The Connecticut DREAM Act

A different type of “DREAM act” could very soon be a reality in Connecticut – it would grant undocumented students in-state tuition rates and provide them with the same opportunities as their documented peers. Although the bill doesn’t provide a path to citizenship, it makes getting higher education much more accessible for undocumented students. The bill just passed its first hurdle in the democrat-controlled General Assembly for the second time, but this time, the new governor, democrat Dannel Malloy, has pledged to sign the legislation if it reaches his desk.

Reporter Melinda Tuhus is in New Haven, CT to find out what residents think about the bill and what its passage could mean for students and the state.

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Dolores Huerta & DREAM Activist Lucy Martinez

The DREAM Act — the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act — received its first-ever vote in the U.S. of House of Representatives: and it passed. The measure faced a Republican filibuster in the Senate, and Democrats tabled it.

Thousands of student activists across the country have been advocating for its passage, often through acts of civil disobedience and non-violent protest. What’s clear, no matter the legislative outcome during this lame duck session of Congress, is that lots of young people have been politicized by this particular struggle.

We wanted to put one of those young activists together with a veteran organizer, someone who has more than her share of victories and defeats under her belt: Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers.

Maria invited the two women to talk about the next steps for the DREAMERS.


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UTSA Students Demand Senator’s Attention

BREAKING: Reports of fifteen DREAM Activists arrested outside Sen. Bailey Hutchison’s office. Read about it at WOAI San Antonio.

UPDATE: Over 40 students at other University of Texas campuses–Austin, Dallas, Brownsville, and Pan Am–are joining in the hunger strike. You can read more here.

In San Antonio this week, students with DREAM Act Now! at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) gathered at the University’s Sombrilla Plaza and vowed to fast until Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson threw her support behind the DREAM Act.

The legislation, a version of which stalled in the Senate earlier this year, would provide a path to citizenship for young undocumented students.

Pamela Resendiz, a political science major at UTSA, spoke with Maria about this week’s action.


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Cross-Cultural Dia de los Muertos

The Mexican tradition of El Dia de los Muertos brings together the living and the dead every November. Elaborate holiday traditions all serve to honor and welcome the spirits of dead loved ones, who are believed to be back for a visit.

The tradition lives on among Mexican immigrants. And most fascinatingly, Dia de los Muertos has become a cross-cultural celebration in America. Listen as host Maria Hinojosa takes you on a journey, preparing to celebrate the Day of the Dead.


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Watch Maria help students at her daughter’s school build Day of the Dead altars in this video produced by The Futuro Media Group’s Nusha Balyan.

A High School in Queens Strives to Connect

It’s hard enough being a teenager. Really, it is.

Immigrants coming to the United States, documented or undocumented, face a staggering array of extra obstacles. Discrimination, language barriers, unfamiliar cultural traditions, lack of knowledge about social structures, low wages… all of these things, and more, must be confronted by people who move to the U.S. Now imagine you’re an immigrant high schooler who barely speaks English and (remember this: it’s important) one of your main goals is fitting in.

As if high school isn’t hard enough already?

One high school in Queens has fashioned itself into an environment where Latin American immigrant high school students can continue their education in Spanish while simultaneously learning English. They get to focus on academics in a language that they already understand. And the school also teaches its students about practical things, like how to buy a metro pass. The non-English speaking H.S. population in New York City has a 30% graduation rate. Pan American International High School wants to change all that by giving its students a place to belong.

Maria Hinojosa visited the school to find out more—to hear from educators, administrators, and students. Take a listen.


Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

Our visit to the Pan American International High School was produced by Xochitl Dorsey and Mincho Jacob, with help from Cecilia Vaisman.

See some of the students at Pan American International High School. Photos by Xochitl Dorsey.

Puerto Rican Student Activism Today

When we traveled to Puerto Rico a few weeks ago, we found a story that most Americans don’t know: The little island is going through big changes—and boricua youth are playing a big part.


Amidst a massive economic recession, Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño ordered widespread cutbacks at the University of Puerto Rico. The university’s budget took a $200 million hit. To protest the cuts, UPR students launched a 60-day strike across the university’s campuses.

Regina Rodriguez is one of the students who took part in the protests. She’s a first-year law student, and one of many young people in Puerto Rico who’s concerned about where their homeland is headed.


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Arizona Update

This week in Arizona, Governor Jan Brewer singed into law a measure which aims to ban ethnic studies in Arizona schools, a move that proponents say will end divisive classes in schools and one that critics say is yet another AZ law targeting Latinos.

HB 2281 bans classes designed for students of a particular ethnic group, or ones that advocate ethnic solidarity. It also bans classes that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government.

In 2008, when the measure was first introduced, Maria spoke with Professor Rodolfo Acuña, author of Occupied America: A History of Chicanos. Here’s that interview again:


Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

Daisy, Ernesto, Gregorio, & Justine

These four university students were arrested last week for an act of civil disobedience: chaining themselves to the doors of the capitol. The four friends are all students at ASU: they’re studying social work, journalism, political science, and trans-border Chicana/Latina studies. They talk to Maria about reaching a point where they felt it was time to act in response to SB-1070, and how they’re looking out for one another as they manage life in Arizona.


Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

See video of the arrests last week at the capitol. (Courtesy of the Cronkite News Service at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.)

The music at the end of the segment is Amaze Me by the Brooklyn-based trio Girlyman.

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