Growing up can be an emotional rollercoaster. Where do Latino youth caught up between culture and universal challenges to emotional well-being go for support? We hear from three young Latinos and how they cope with anxiety, depression, peer pressure and relationships. We also speak to Dr. Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, a professor and founding director of the UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities.
Image courtesy of Nicole Plata.
Andrew Stelzer, Pauline Bartolone, and Jon Kalish contributed to this report.
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Dr. Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola is a Professor of Clinical Internal Medicine, the Founding Director of the UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities (CRHD), the Director of the Community Engagement Program of the UC Davis Clinical Translational Science Center (CTSC), and Co-Director of the National Institute of Aging (NIA) funded Latino Aging Research and Resource Center (LARRC).
Claudia Mendez is a 22 years old student at San Francisco State University. She was born and raised in the Mission District of San Francisco, CA, and was placed in foster care at the age of 16 because of family abuse. After realizing that there were many gaps in the foster care system, Claudia decided that she wanted to be an advocate for her community and help change different systems to better the lives of other young people. She is proudly a San Francisco State University Guardian Scholar pursuing a Bachelors degree in Comparative World Literature and plans to attend law school to become a dependency lawyer. She is also a member of Honoring Emancipated Youth and trainer at Transitional Youth Initiative. Besides school, some of Claudia’s hobbies are photography, soccer with friends and family, and scrapbooking.
Nikko Reynoso is a Chicano trans* activist committed to social justice, gender equity, and anti-racist advocacy. From East Side San Jose, he speaks on issues relating to the intersections of identity, including sexuality, race, gender, and class. He is also a 3rd year UC Davis student studying Women and Gender studies, Chicana/o studies and Sociology.
Nicole Plata is the Youth Initiatives Coordinator for the Mental Health Association of San Francisco. She is a passionate and uncompromising advocate for Transitional Aged Youth (TAY) in the mental health system. Her passion is rooted in her own experience with trauma and is inspired by the investment of her mentors and her faith in God.
She is a native of East Side San Jose, and identifies as a Mixed-Race Latina of Panamanian and Puerto Rican descent. Having overcome a variety of challenges in her youth, from abuse and community violence to involvement in the criminal justice system and a traumatic brain surgery, Nicole offers a well-informed perspective to those she works with. She seeks to use her perspective and experience to advocate and inform services for the diverse youth of California. She does this through her work for the Mental Health Association of San Francisco and her involvement on various Transition Age Youth advocacy groups within San Francisco County and statewide. In her free time, Nicole is an artist and muralist who loves to awaken her roots through salsa dancing.