The Mount has always shown its dedication to preserving, uplifting and helping the Latinx and Hispanic communities preserve their stories and voices. The Mount’s constant dedication for minority representation has made students, specifically Latinx students, feel at home on campus. Here are two of their stories.
A recent graduate, Samantha de la Torre works in the media industry and is a strong advocate for Hispanic and Latin representation in society and within media.
“Latinx Heritage Month means so many things to me,” she says. “But there wouldn't be a need for it if our people were not underrepresented, undervalued, and underpaid.” De la Torre feels that Hispanic and Latinx people are not provided many platforms for promoting and celebrating the many facets of their lives. “We are constantly portrayed as hardworking people or people who serve other people in this country, but people forget that we are also creative and we make art,” she says. “We are people who celebrate family and make delicious food. Latinx Heritage Month allows us to celebrate the totality of who we are for a month every year.”
As a business owner and a freelance artist, de la Torre recognizes that art in the Latinx community matters. One reason that she decided to become a freelance artist was she noticed how out of place she felt when she would intern at big corporations. In March 2021, Samantha launched her own creative agency through Instagram through which she not only helped small local Latinx businesses revamp their social media, but also big names such as Adidas.
De la Torre credits the University for motivating her to pursue her path. She is particularly grateful to Nicole Haggard, PhD for providing many opportunities to her students. “I appreciate her a lot,” says Gutierrez. “She has been super supportive of my journey as creator. Being in a community of women who are studying because they want to be professionals is empowering. That environment really convinced me that I can do whatever I want, that I’m not limited to one thing, and I should not feel like I can’t make it in a certain industry because I am a Latina.
“All of the women I saw on campus were female leaders. As a Latina, I never felt out of place there, because there was so much support. The Mount never made me feel uncomfortable because of my race. Instead, it gave me the confidence to be who I am.”
Crystal Gutierez is majoring in social work, but she also serves as public relations chair for student club Latinas Unidas. The club aims to unite students who share a passion for cultural awareness and activism of the Latinx community. Latinas Unidas also educates outside communities and members of the Mount on issues regarding education, racial and social injustice, and culture.
Gutierrez is extremely proud of her roots, and she credits her Latinidad [the various attributes shared by Latin Americans without reducing those similarities to any single essential trait] as her main source of empowerment. She enjoys celebrating Latinx Heritage Month, as it reminds her that she matters, and it provides her with a safe space and allows her to express herself.
“My culture has a major role in my life,” says Gutierrez. “It gives me my purpose and it has made me the person I am today, and it has influenced the way I present myself and carry myself. Latinx Heritage Month validates me, my culture and my experiences. We are here, and we are everywhere.”
Gutierrez feels that Latinx Heritage Month is also a great time of reflection for the community, to appreciate what they have done as a group, what they can do to better, while further advocating for those who are being mistreated and educating others on their culture.
She is a first-gen student and being at the Mount motivates her to become the best version of herself that she can possibly be. As she continues her education at the Mount, she feels that she will be ready to begin her career and credits the Mount for the endless support and resources that they have been able to provide for her in order to succeed academically, professionally and personally.
“I have faced zero discrimination here at the Mount, but I did experience culture shock,” says Gutierrez. “Coming from a predominately Black and Brown community, I felt like I wasn’t going to belong or that my spot was meant for someone else. But the Mount was quick to make me realize that I do belong. The Mount is very committed to diversity and equity, and it emphasizes human rights and fairness, which I love.”
Latinas Unidas provided Gutierrez with the support group she craved. She had felt out of place as a first-gen, but the club made her feel welcomed and gave her a purpose at the Mount. “It makes me so happy to know that I am able to provide the same support to other first-gen Latinx students that I was given,” she says. “The Mount has given me the courage to say that I belong here, and I will succeed.”