Alejandro Lopez '13
“With this class and minor, I was able to speak up and defend myself. I was confident and talked in other classes about what we were discussing in Ethnic Studies. I became who I am today because of this minor. Academically, Ethnic Studies helped me in my English Major because I would always write papers that had to do with systematic and societal issues. It also helped me develop more confidence."
To read Alejandro's thesis, click here
Brianna Ortiz '13
“I believe Ethnic Studies has opened my eyes to the racial inequalities in the world. As I complete this chapter in my life, I see myself continuing in the Ethnic Studies tradition and speaking up for the inequalities I see as well as helping to give the voiceless a voice. I will continue to educate others and engage in dialogue through the vast amount of knowledge I have gained over the past four years, to which I am grateful for and proud to be an Ethnic Studies minor."
To read Elisa's thesis, click here
Elisa Sahagun '13
“Prior to Ethnic Studies I only had my own personal experiences that I could look back on. However after taking the introduction course I began to see how my own personal experiences were universal. Learning the difference between race and ethnicity really blew my mind at the time. As the semester progressed and the idea that everything is socially constructed in our society really got me thinking. Ethnic Studies made me think and I liked that. It made me want to change my outlook on society and change the way I viewed myself."
To read Elisa's thesis, click here
Brianna J. Carlson '13
“I carry Ethnic Studies around with me in my own "invisible knapsack", and must never forget to appreciate the uniqueness and quality of the knowledge I have learned in this program. The reality of leaving my safe bubble of Saint Mary's College of California is finally setting in, and beyond the waves of emotion I am feeling, I will never forget the deep appreciation I feel for the Ethnic Studies community.”
To read Brianna's thesis, click here
Michelle Harris '12
“I really enjoyed Kindred a novel by Octavia E. Butler. It was one of my favorite books we had read throughout the semester. I really appreciated how Professor Quijada let us tap into our creative side with this project. Furthermore, I really enjoy writing poetry when I have the time to do so. Although my thesis focused on the injustice of young African American males, it affects women as well, which the book tackled. We all come from a different time and place, and we may face inequalities differently, but we all are oppressed in one way or another.”
To read Michellee's thesis, click here
Megan Sta nford '12
“My eyes have been opened to the different struggles each group has had to overcome to become an American. Because of this program I am more equipped with the knowledge needed to pursue my career path and make changes in my own life. The most challenging thing this program has forced me to realize is that in being a white American, I have no strong relation to my ancestors or my cultural back ground. It is frustrating to me that the immigration of my ancestors does not have any impact on my life. I hope to gain even more knowledge of my family background so that someday my children will know where they came from and it will have some effect on their lives. My being a white, faith-filled, female student has helped direct my life and has led me to this course. ...My hope for my future is that I can create some sort of change. Not only change for the minorities that I hope to work with but change for my"
To read Megan's thesis, click here.
Selam Kidane '12
“I did not need to be told what to do. After coming to this realization I understood the complexity of our society. I was constantly becoming more and more aware of my race and began to understand how I was treated differently because of it. I now had a new challenge to use my independence to determine how to ward off being inferior. How was I going to use my independence to safeguard my identity? How could I see racism and sexism as products of a system of oppression and not a critique on my character? I think my journey (at Saint Mary’s) somewhat sums up how I began to answer these questions.
My (Ethnic Studies) classes had now given me a framework, a theoretical background, thus I could support the claims of the inequality and racism that existed. People disagreed with my opinions, disregarded my opinions, and desensitized and demoralized my intellect as a person of color. This, I felt came with the territory of being an activist and being human: the correlation being, activists are fighting to change social norms that are societal standards and therefore are very difficult to deconstruct.”
To read Selam's thesis, click here.
Yaneli Cevallos '12
“My question now is, what can I do now to help all this injustice in the world? Just my mentality about others changing is the first step to slowly working towards the overall goal of improving humanity and the community. I am willing to fight and learn everyone’s differences and to embrace life for its social and economic differences between people. Forming relationships and tolerating people’s differences and comparing them to my own were one of the most valuable lessons I learned. I did not isolate myself but I eliminated preconceived stereotypes that I had and started seeing people as people and not for the color of their skin. Honestly, I have become so open towards others around me that it has helped me to form new relationships with people I never associated myself with before Saint Mary’s. The program was so beneficial in giving me adequate training on preparing me for the workforce. It has let me tie in the theories and stances on racial and economic inequalities and tied into my responsibility for the greater whole.”
To read Yaneli's thesis, click here.
Lien Truong '11
“For the first time, my experiences, struggles, and hardships were acknowledged by the materials we were reading, but importantly those who came from privileged backgrounds heard me. I told myself, if it takes me to be vulnerable or be an 'angry' woman of color in the classroom to illustrate my experience as something that is real, I will do it. Education is liberation to empower myself, then again to educate those around me to become allies and recognize these differences are internalized. The key finding of my research falls back on cultural competency professors who identify talents and nurture them and also create co-intentional teaching to empower the voices who have been historically silent.”
To view Lien's thesis presentation, click here.
Rachel Matsumoto '11
"Perhaps the most influential aspects of my coursework that helped to develop my interests in graduate school were the courses I took for my Ethnic Studies minor. I stumbled upon ethnic studies on accident and it became a deep passion for me. I found that my interests in psychology, specifically in social psychology, and Ethnic Studies merged together quite nicely. As I began to take advanced courses in both the Ethnic Studies department and the Psychology department, my work started to encompass elements from both disciplines. The pivotal point in my undergraduate academic career was my senior thesis for my Ethnic Studies minor, which motivated me to pursue a graduate degree. For my thesis I took a psychological approach to an ethnic studies question and investigated the “Relationship of Ethnic Identity to Unconscious Race Biases.” Having been able to conduct my own research was invigorating and an experience that I would not have traded for anything. Despite the difficulties; hard work; and time that it took to write my thesis, it turned out to be the one piece of writing that I am the most proud of. In addition to discovering my admiration for research, my thesis helped me to find the kind of research questions that interest me and that I am wholeheartedly passionate about.
To view Rachel's thesis, click here.
Ethnic Studies Reflections
I’m from a home like Gone with the Wind.
I’m from 2 strangers who had a lust affair.
I’m from 2 parents who are the most beautiful people.
I’m from Portugal & Ireland
I’m from the land of the small and home of the loud
I’m from love & affection-giving my all to all
I am Charlotte Louise Huguenor
Charlotte Louise Huguenor
I am from a suburbia wannabe
I am from violence and crime surrounding me.
I am from drugs, prostitution, and gangs.
I am from somewhere I don’t want to be.
I am from 6 or 7 houses.
I am from one place that I call home.
I am from family, friends, and hardship.
I am from what my experiences have shown.
My whiteness is a blessing
My whiteness is a curse
It’s easy, it’s normal, it’s invisible
It’s cushy, it’s breezy-god damn it it’s easy!
It’s standard, it’s thoughtless, it’s benign it’s true
It’s pure, it’s sure it’s better than you.
My whiteness is beauty My whiteness is right
My whiteness will win in any ol’ fight
It’s strong, it’s smart, it’s free It protects, it rejects, it’s key
It floats, it glides, it always has a side And it never—never has to hide.
My whiteness is pleasure, my whiteness is bliss My whiteness is that, my whiteness is this
I’m white, I’m white, I,m white- it’s breezy I’m white, I’m white, god damn it- it’s easy!
But no matter the things that whiteness might be- It stains red from blood the most easily Of all the hues of humanity… Whiteness is soaked the worst. My whiteness is a blessing, my whiteness is a curse.
Rachel Nish, Senior Fall 2012