By Leo Cabral
Representation matters. That is what sociology professor Eddie Perez and Associate Professor of Counseling, Patricia Avila, had in mind when they were confronted with what to do in honor of Latinx Heritage Month.
“The ability to see yourself in successful positions is extremely important,” said Perez in his opening statement for the Latinx Influence in American History exhibit held in the Bradshaw Hall of Fame on Sept. 18. He reflected on the sense of not belonging during his time as an undergraduate because he noted there was a scarcity of Latinx faculty members. “This gallery is a way that we can show our students what we do belong in professional spaces.”
The Bradshaw Hall of Fame was decorated with the visages of famous Latinxs role models in America. Some renowned Latinxs included in the gallery were the first Latina astronaut Ellen Ochoa, musician Selena Quintanilla-Pérez and physicist Albert Baez.
Perez and Avila wanted to present a diverse selection of successful Latinx icons in various career fields rather than just celebrities so RCC students could see themselves in these role models.
“I think the impetus for wanting to really do a whole month’s worth of activities was the fact that we have 64% Latino students on campus,” said Avila about what inspired the gallery. “We wanted to really showcase what the contributions are because our students need to know and they need to get validated. That validation is super important.”
“I feel really empowered to see these Latino people,” said RCC student Jeni Medina. Medina heard about the gallery through her sociology class. “I realize that these are specifically chosen people who were in America making a difference as Latinos, especially during times where there was so much racism going on and so much adversity.”
The Latinx Influence in American History gallery pieces have been moved to the second floor of The Digital Library. Students can check out the books and DVDs that have been displayed around the gallery in celebration of Latinx Heritage Month.