Event spotlights center and Mexican-American studies program.
By Samantha L. Alonso
Students, faculty, staff and administrators gathered Feb. 1 for the Mexican-American studies open house to support the new program at this college.
The program, which began last semester, hosted the open house in the Mexican American Studies Center, room 100 of Chance Academic Center.
The event, which attracted 35 people, included refreshments, sandwiches, music and Mexican sweet bread. Kayla Matta, curator of local gallery Pan Dulce, spoke about her life struggles and accomplishments.
Starting the gallery itself was a struggle, along with juggling motherhood and working at H-E-B, she said.
“It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I had a teacher who inspired me to put more of my art out,” Matta said. “She always reminded me that as a woman of color it was important to have a hustler’s mentality, that you have to work twice, maybe three times as hard.”
The MAS program hosted the open house to get the word out about the new program.
The MAS center is open 8:30-10:30 a.m. Monday and Wednesday, 3-5 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday and 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday.
“These courses really can help you become a better social worker, a better teacher. I hear it all the time from my students,” Dr. Lisa Ramos, Mexican-American studies coordinator, said at the open house.
MAS students can gather to study in the center, and other students with different majors are also welcome to study or hold meetings in the center. In the back of the MAS center there is a mindfulness room where students can go if they are nervous or stressed. They can relax and read inspirational quotes posted on the wall. The room also includes a couch where students can unwind.
Dr. Robert Vela, college president, attended the open house. He said the MAS program provides an education beyond the boundaries of this campus.
“It’s bigger than just a classroom, it’s about contextualizing every opportunity that we get to make the curriculum relevant to who we are and where we came from,” Vela said.
The program includes nine courses: Mexican-American History 1 and 2, two Introduction to Mexican-American Studies sections, one literature, one political science and three intermediate Spanish sections. Four faculty members teach the classes.
Along with offering new courses to students, the Mexican-American Studies program is now partnering with the Men’s Empowerment Network, which concentrates on getting more African-American and Mexican-American men to graduate here, and The Dream.US that helps immigrant youth with funds to attend colleges or universities.
“These partnerships were going to be able to provide scholarships for undocumented students all the way through their associate or bachelor’s degree,” Vela said. “We want you here, you’re part of our community, that’s who we are as serving members of our community. We’re not just talking it, we’re walking it.”
The program is reaching out to help the community as well as students of this campus, Vela said.
“I can’t say how thankful and proud I am to have such phenomenal faculty leaders taking ownership of not just their classrooms and doing a phenomenal job in their classrooms, but outside in the community, bridging the classroom with the community,” Vela said.
For more information, visit the MAS Center in Room 100 of Chance.