My decision to continue my education straight out of undergrad was not an easy one. With the ridiculous federal administration that was elected and appointed since the 2016 election cycle, the safety of my family and my personal safety was at stake. While finances played a role in my choice, I ultimately based my decision on what was going to be best for me – even if it meant leaving my family for another two years. Currently, I am a student enrolled in Kent State University’s Higher Education Administration and College Student Personnel Master’s program.
Yes, I did leave the beautiful city of Chicago to pursue a master’s degree.
Yes, it’s more rural than I am used to.
Yes, it’s very white.
I am a graduate assistant within the Office of Diversity, Outreach and Development (DOD) in the College of Education, Health and Human Services. The face behind our social media outlets is yours truly. Feel free to follow us on Instagram and Twitter: @KSUEHHS_DOD. When I’m not monitoring our online presence, I engage in a mentoring program that comes directly out of our office. It’s exciting to interact with high school students to teach them about the importance of higher education.
The folks within my office have quickly become my family. They listen to me vent about pretty much everything, engage in fitness plans with me and look out for me. Considering the fact that I truly did not know a single soul moving to Ohio, my “DOD” family has served as my home away from home.
While I’ve genuinely enjoyed my time thus far, the lack of Latinx presence both in Ohio and on campus has brought a bit of frustration and sadness. Coming into this experience, I made the assumption that I could easily find a small community of Latinxs in the area. After learning that Ohio’s population has a whopping total of 3% Latinxs, you can probably understand why it’s been difficult to get a cultural taste of home within the state – heck, even within the city of Kent. Back home in Chicago, I could walk down the street to get Mexican treats. In undergrad I was only a 10 minute drive away from an authentic Latino meal. Having to travel 30 minutes to get some Goya seasoning has been a little rough.
I miss los tacos, the Spanish-speaking, the smell of panaderías, the fear of my mother’s “chancla”.
I miss the advocacy and activism that comes from mi gente.
Extraño mi comunidad Latinx.
Other than the lack of my culture, my graduate experience has been exceptional thus far. I thoroughly enjoy my classes and have seen how various theories and frameworks shaped my undergraduate experience. I actually think for the first time in my years of engaging in academia, there hasn’t been a day where I wanted to miss class. Learning about the oppressive systems embedded in higher education motivates me to dismantle these systems with vigor. Learning about research methods excites me – who would have seen that one coming?!
I’m excited to share my experiences about being a small, brown, Latina woman at Kent State University with you all. Follow along for tales on my random day to day happenings, experiences with my assistantship, the search for more Latinx friends and authentic tacos and hopefully some advocacy work here on campus and in the Kent/Cleveland area!
Authors Note: “Latinx” is used so we are not confining to the Spanish language’s gender binaries of “Latino/Latina”.
This post is part of the Emerging SA Pro series following four awesome people: Michelle, Sara, Thalia, and Holly. Join us as they blog monthly about a year in their journey as a new SA Pro or SA grad. We are proud to help them share their stories.