New Mexican-American studies program gives unique perspective of culture

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 Illustration by Alexandra Nelipa

Illustration by Alexandra Nelipa

Professors stress importance of understanding the culture and heritage for the workplace.

By Kyle R. Cotton

kcotton11@student.alamo.edu

Mexican-American studies at this college helps not only those who are looking to understand their roots, but also gives people who aren’t Latin-American a new understanding.

The Mexican-American studies program began this semester after receiving approval from the district board of trustees. The 2016-17 college catalog lists the new program as offering an Associate of Arts Field of Study degree.

Field of study is a specific course of study approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board that requires public four-year universities to accept 12 or 15 semester credit hours.

The courses are from the history, English, humanities and language programs.

The program’s field of study courses are HUMA 1305, Introduction to Mexican-American Studies; HIST 2327 and 2328, Mexican-American History 1 and 2; GOVT 2311, Mexican-American Politics; ENGL 2351, Mexican-American Literature; SPAN 2312, Intermediate Spanish 2, or SPAN 2315, Spanish for Native Speakers 2; and HUMA 1311, Mexican-American Fine Arts Appreciation.

“The program is brand new,” Mariano Aguilar, Mexican-American literature professor, said. “We were only approved as a field of study by the Alamo Colleges in May, so we are putting everything together from absolute scratch. One thing we want to try and emphasize is give attention to Chicano and Chicana activists of the ’60s and ’70s who’ve been ignored by history.”

Aguilar said every semester this college’s Mexican-American Studies’ classes will be interviewing Chicano activists.

“Eventually, three, four, five years down the line, we’ll have enough interviews so that we can compile a book on that and we can give them the attention they haven’t had all this time,” he said.

Dr. Lisa Ramos, Mexican-American history professor, said one of the things she wants to do is help students realize how it important it is understand Mexican-American history if they are going to work in the San Antonio area, which is predominantly Hispanic.

“These classes aren’t just for people who want to learn about their parents and grandparents. … It’s actually going to help you in the workforce today because this population is 66 percent Mexican descent, so you really need to understand the history of the people you’re working with to be the best possible employee.

Aguilar said having this understanding could give students the edge when competing for jobs, Ramos said.

For those majoring in Mexican-American studies, Ramos said it will make a difference by helping businesses, politicians and others understand Mexican-American culture as well as themselves.

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