Texas State’s Latina/o Studies program hosted Princeton University Director of Latina/o Studies Marta Tienda Oct. 11 to speak on what the rapidly growing Latino population means for Texas.
Tienda, a first-generation college student with immigrant parents, dived into what impacted her opportunities and education during her lecture, “Latinos and the Future of America: Reflections on the Color of Educational Opportunity,” at the Wittliff Collections in the Alkek Library.
“Everyone keeps saying, ‘Move the kids out, Move the kids out,'” Tienda said. “Well, if everyone moves out of every bad area, where will they go? We need to invest in our youth.”
The event was coordinated by Latina/o Studies Minor Committee chair Gloria Martinez, who proposed the minor’s creation. After the minor’s proposal passed through two committees, Provost Gene Bourgeois officially signed off on the minor in February 2018, with students able to enroll in Latina/o classes starting fall 2018. Martinez said she hopes the minor will give students an appreciation for the impact Latinos have had on Texas.
“We wanted to bring her in to talk about the demographic shift and the implications of this growing population in the U.S., our institutions and their contributions to American society,” Martinez said.
During the presentation, Tienda said the higher education system is not “equal opportunity” and showed graphs supporting the idea that children raised in lower income areas are less likely to pursue a higher education. Tienda said instead of telling parents in poorer areas to move out, more action needs to be taken in actually improving these areas.
Tienda tied her presentation into Texas State’s Latina/o studies minor by talking about the population growth that inspired the lecture in the first place. Tienda said the current state of higher education can improve significantly by educating people about how the rapid growth of minorities in Texas can do more harm than good.
“The majority-minority rhetoric makes people really angry because they think they’re losing something rather than gaining something,” Tienda said.
Darius Wiley, political science senior, said he was grateful for Tienda’s lecture and that as a first-generation student, her lecture was relatable.
“For young people to hear from someone as educated as her (speak), it plants seeds in us to go do more,” Wiley said. “I feel like as first-generation students, we need to listen to people who have lived our experiences.”
Martinez recommends that any students interested in pursuing Latina/Latino Studies take the introductory course, Introduction to Latina/o Studies, and take one of the specialized courses from there.
“I think if you have a background in Latino studies you can go into all kinds of careers,” Martinez said. “Education, law enforcement, economics and business. Texas has the fastest growing business sector and that growth is really spearheaded by that growth of Latinos in central Texas. So if you’re interested in business this minor is perfect for you.”