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This Latina Blamed Her Parents For Her Lack Of Education When She Was A Teen, Now She Is Graduating From UC Berkeley And Thanking Them

Alejandra López is getting ready to graduate from University of California, Berkeley and a few weeks she wrote a powerful message on Facebook about the power of family – and the Internet loved it. Next month she will be graduating with a degree in Sociology and Social work and she told mitú that her goals include getting a Ph.D so she can become a professor. López also talked to us about her powerful Facebook post, overcoming her own obstacles, and how she used the perceptions of her family to get to where she is today.

This is Alejandra López, 23, and she is about to graduate from University of California, Berkeley.

Alejandra López / Facebook

López grew up in Huron, Calif., a predominately Latino town of 7,000 people about 3 hours north of Los Angeles. For López, the town she grew up in didn’t really leave her with much hope of obtaining higher education.

“The closest high school was a 45-minute bus ride, so Huron kids had to wake up extra early and get home later just to get a high school education. This was the most impactful experience that solidified my educational goals because in high school I became one of the Huron students in honors and AP classes,” López told mitú. “Going to these classes was hard because I was seen as one of the few “worthy” Huron kids to be in these top performing classes, when my other Huron peers were just as capable of excelling in these classes.”

Her parents are farmworkers and, as the photo below shows, she often goes to the fields to help her parents.

Courtesy of Alejandra López

López admits that when she was younger, she was frustrated with the lack of educational opportunity and it translated into resentment towards her mother.

Courtesy of Alejandra López

“We were always poor and I knew that my ticket out of all of this was education, so in a sense studying became my escape,” López explained to mitú about her longing for an education. “In those moments, I let anger and frustration out on my mom by telling her, “voy ir a la universidad porque no quiero ser mensa como tu toda mi vida,” [I’m going to university because I don’t want to be dumb like you all of my life] because I thought that she purposefully didn’t want to pursue an education. Later I learned that she only received a 3rd grade education in Mexico and had to stop because her family didn’t have the funds to continue sending her to school. Part of my lashing out was frustration and the other half was that I just didn’t really take the time to get to know my mom beyond the mom title until I started to look at higher education as an option.”

Yet, despite her own perceived block from higher education, López excelled and eventually made it to UC Berkeley. She does admit her parents always encouraged college even if her teenage self thought they didn’t.

Courtesy of Alejandra López

“My parents always emphasized education. They would always tell me, “Tienes que estudiar para no trabajar en el fil como nosotros. [You have to study so you don’t work on the fields like we do.]” That always made sense to me, but it never felt comfortable because I didn’t see anything wrong with being a farmworker,”  López told mitú. “I just knew that they wanted to see me in a career that didn’t require backbreaking work, so the idea of going to college was always there.”

For López, it was a no-brainer to include her parents in her graduation photos because this is their accomplishment too.

graduation picture because my family and i are graduating from UC Berkeley. some would say it’s the #1 public…

Posted by Alejandra López on Saturday, April 22, 2017


She credits her family and their unwavering support in love as giving her the inspiration and encouragement to make it through the process of applying, selecting, and ultimately attending college. Though she does think that her parents don’t understand the full impact of going to a school like UC Berkeley.

As for how she sees her mom, well, that has totally changed.

Alejandra López / Facebook

“I am so proud of my mami,” López exclaimed to mitú. “My mom struggled with letting me go to UC Berkeley because I am the baby of the family, but I think that by supporting my goals she gave herself room to figure out her role in life outside of mami. When I left, I bought her a book (I think it was ‘Los Cuatro Acuerdos’ by Don Miguel Ruiz) and after that, she was hooked. She LOVES to read now and it’s been so beautiful to see her grow. She has been right by my side learning with me as well as teaching me of the things she reads, and vice versa.”

“Gracias, sin su apoyo I wouldn’t have been able to graduate,” López told mitú about what she tells her family about graduating college.

Courtesy of Alejandra López

She continued: “And thank you for teaching me the importance of familia and comunidad, which have guided me outside our home. Los amo!”


READ: From the Fields to UCLA: This Success Story Will Motivate You to Chase Your Dreams

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21 Weird College Majors We Wish We Would Have Known About While Still In School

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21 Weird College Majors We Wish We Would Have Known About While Still In School

When I was in college, we all made fun of the people that came to school just to end up taking easy classes. There was classes on baking arts and physical education. It’s only now, ten years since I graduated, that I realize some of those people may have had it right since the beginning. Although there’s a lot of weird college classes out there, there’s good news for those of us who love that kind of thing: Weird college majors!

If you’re in college now or are reminiscing about your school days, this list is for you. From a major that deals with the science and technology of surfing (yes, really) to a Ph.D in Decision Sciences (yes, as in, the science of making a good decision), here are the 21 weird college majors… that we kind of sort of seriously wish we would have known about while we were still in school. Although I’m ultimately happy with where I ended up, it’s nice to know that there are many more options out there. Plus, if I ever wanted to go back to school, a Master’s in Packaging is always an option.

1. Bagpiping

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If you head over to Carnegie Mellon University, you can take up bagpiping. This is “a program of study where a person can get a complete grounding in music as well as specific instruction on the instrument.” Pretty neat, huh? Though you probably have to REALLY love bagpipes to do this. 

2. Family Enterprise

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Head over to Stetson University of a major that is all about teaching you about “self-awareness, family systems, utilizing family involvement as a strategic advantage and how to consult with family enterprises.” Basically, if you want to run a family business or work with a family business, then this is the thing to study. 

3. Citrus

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If you’ve ever fall in love with an orange or started every single morning by eating half a grapefruit, then perhaps a Citrus degree at Florida Southern College is the one for you. You will learn about “planting, irrigating, weed management, pruning, fertilizers, pest identification and management, and other aspects of tree management working with our on-campus collection of many varieties of citrus trees.”

4. Cannabis Cultivation

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It really shouldn’t be shocking that a university in California would allow their students to get a degree in cannabis, as you can if you go to Oaksterdam University. Considering the legal and thriving industry of medical marijuana and now recreational use in The Golden State, this actually kind of makes sense. You’d take classes in history, politics, and legalities of the herb. 

5. Theme Park Engineering

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If you’re a fan of theme parks, then you can actually get a specialized degree in Theme Park Engineering at California State University. This will include training in civil and mechanical engineering but especially electrical engineering, with topics covered such as electrical power as well as electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, and pneumatic control. 

6. Decision Sciences

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If you want to seem like a total smarty pants, then head on over to Indiana University for their Ph.D in Decision Sciences. This is actually serious business, where you will study a range of quantitative methods in order to make great business decisions. As a grad with this degree, you will have the skills to apply research, data, and analysis to solve problems in many different disciplines. 

7. Adventure Education

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Do you love the Great Outdoors? Well, then head over to Plymouth State University for their degree that teaches you how to “expose children, adults and at-risk populations to challenging adventures, personal growth and self-discovery.” You’ll learn everything from rock climbing fundamentals to whitewater kayaking and more. 

8. Farrier Science

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There’s degrees in knowing everything you can about horses out there, but this is even MORE specialized. At Masalands Community College, you will learn the art of horseshoeing. Yes, that’s right, horseshoeing. You will learn things such as blacksmithing, hors hoeing theory, and even equine anatomy and physiology. That’s pretty impressive if you’re, you know, a really huge fan of horseshoeing.

9. Poultry Science

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If you’ve always wanted to learn everything you can about chickens, then here you go. Texas A&M University offers a degree in the science of poultry, where you will get to study, research, and service a potentially important career in this agricultural commodity. You can study everything from biology, chemistry, and zoology, along with public speaking and even technical writing. 

10. Floral Management

clausdalby/Instagram

Mississippi State University is all about the pretty flowers… or, as they like to put it, floral management. This is a really interesting degree where you will learn things such as floral design, interior panting design, and more. Courses involve “sourcing, purchasing, distributing, marketing, designing with, and selling floricultural products.” So you want to be a florist or deal in flowers? Here you go!

11. Turfgrass Science

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At Penn State University, you can get a Bachelor of Science degree studying turfgrass… which is, if you didn’t know, the grass that you can likely find at the local country club. It’s actually a lot more complicated than that, though, and you will be able to have a career in professional lawn care, sod production, and athletic field maintenance. The courses are actually pretty serious in science, though, so this isn’t just some easy degree.

12. Bassoon

emilyreedsmusic/Instagram

Just as you can have a degree in bagpiping, you can also get a bachelor’s degree in the bassoon. For those that don’t know, the bassoon is a 19th century woodwind instrument that mimics that sound of a male baritone. If you head over to the University of Arizona, you can get your degree in instrumental studies with this instrument as your musical weapon of choice. Wow!

13. Fermentation Sciences

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You can get a degree in Fermentation Sciences at Appalachian State University, and study the engineering and systems design behind wine and brewing in order to “understanding the social and cultural implications of food and beverage production.” There’s a lot of classes that focus on biology and chemistry, as well as the business, marketing, and entrepreneurial principles of fermentation. Definitely a fun degree to drink to!

14. Race Track Industry

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This degree at the University of Arizona is one those who love horses and horse race tracks. That’s right, with this baby, you can learn to either follow the business track and learn all about race track management, regulation, and “pari-mutuel racing organizations” or you can follow the more biology-focused path and study racing and breeding animals. Either way, get ready for a lot of horse… stuff.

15. EcoGastronomy

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If you’ve ever wondered how food gets from the farm to your plate, then you might want to consider a degree in EcoGastronomy at the University of New Hampshire. There is a serious study towards sustainability where students get to study food at a number of steps as it goes from the farms to our plates, such as the ecological impact of what we eat. 

16. Packaging

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Do you love boxes and packing and organizing? Well, then perhaps you should head to Michigan State University for a Bachelor of Science, Master of Science or even Ph.D program in packaging at their School of Packaging. This sounds almost silly, but it’s basically exactly what you imagined: Student here study all sorts of packaging because they are passionate about improving the functionality and environmental impact of… yes, packaging. 

17. Auctioneering

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Did you ever pretend to be one for those people at the auction who calls out names and paddle numbers and gets people to bid? You know the ones: They talk a mile a minute and sound oh-so-funny as they scream out “Sold!”. Thankfully, if you want to take your amateur status professional, you can actually head to the Harrisburg Area Community College to study auctioneering in order to learn the “auctioneer’s chant” and learn how to obtain and appraise items, as well as run an actual auction from start to finish.

18. Mortuary Science

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If you want a recession-proof degree, then you might want to consider going back to school to Lincoln College of New England, where you can earn a degree in mortuary science. This is where you, as a student, will learn all about the funeral services field. Sure, it sounds a bit morbid, but you will never want for a job… sadly.

19. Bowling Industry Management and Technology

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Do you love bowling? No, I mean, do you LOVE bowling? Well, lucky for you, Vincennes University offers a degree in Bowling Industry Management and Technology. That’s right, you can turn your favorite hobby into a real career as you study “overall learning and preparation for employment” in the bowling industry at this school. Some of the classes you might take include lane and pinsetter paintemant, pro shop operations and instruction, and so much more.

20. Puppet Arts

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Who doesn’t love puppets? I mean, okay, some of us find them a bit creepy… But if you love puppets, then you’re in luck. The University of Connecticut allows you to study puppetry or the art of the puppet. Meaning, you’ll be a student in charge of learning how to create, build, and manage puppets as well as learn all about puppet shows. This is definitely a really interesting degree, and one that can include work in the theater, in film or TV, at a school, or even museum programs.

21. Surf Science and Technology

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You can get a lot of cool and interesting degrees if you head over to the U.K. (such as a Master’s degree in The Beatles at Liverpool Hope University), but the most useful one might just be a two-year course that is offered at Plymouth University. This schooling includes surf practice, culture, and coastal environmental classes. You’ll learn so much about the art of surfing, as well as the science and technology behind it. And what you do with it afterwards, whether for personal pleasure or for business, is totally up to you.

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As A Teacher At A University Where Students Can Carry Guns, Lectures On Race & Gender Can Become Dangerous

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As A Teacher At A University Where Students Can Carry Guns, Lectures On Race & Gender Can Become Dangerous

Despite some people’s fears that academia is a place where students are coddled and spoon fed radical ideas, the truth is that the Ivory Tower largely remains an institution dominated by whiteness, from the administration, to the professors to the types of knowledge and material deemed worthy of inclusion. There’s nothing safe nor radical about that, especially for students of color.

When I entered a PhD program in literature at the University of Texas at Austin, my goal was to be a voice of change, to infiltrate the system, so to speak, and shake things up as one of the small number of Latinx women with the ability and privilege of teaching classes at a university. I hoped to become a part of the tradition of activist academics like Gloria Anzaldúa and Audre Lorde, those who demanded that the lives and stories of people of color and queer people of color were heard and valued in spaces that so often silenced them.

This work has always required bravery—a willingness to be outspoken, to make people uncomfortable and to be a vulnerable body in front of a crowd. But with the frequency of school shootings and the palpable hatred of people of color in the Trump era, the danger of spitting truth in front of a classroom is a reality that dominates my day-to-day life as a postdoctoral lecturer at UT.

I was still a graduate student at UT Austin when, amid the growing concern over school shootings, Campus Carry, legislation that gives students with a concealed handgun license the legal right to carry their loaded weapons into classrooms, went into effect in Texas. One idea behind the law was, of course, that in the event of a school shooting, a trained gun holder could theoretically save the day—you know, the “good guy with a gun” argument that is so popular today.

The law also makes it easier for guns to land in the hands of those without a license to carry arms. Last month, UT sent out an email notifying students that there were two “unattended guns” found on campus. Turned out both of them belonged to people who were licensed gun holders, but they could have very easily been found, picked up and used by any student, faculty or community member.

Ironically, the law went into effect on August 1, 2016—the 50th anniversary of the third-deadliest school shooting in the U.S. when, in 1966, Charles Whitman ascended the UT tower in the middle of campus and went on a shooting rampage, firing at students down below and ultimately killing 14 people and wounding another 31.

That’s right: at the very school where one of the biggest claims to fame is a school shooting, guns are not only perfectly legal, they’re practically encouraged.

Although UT has a reputation for being a more liberal school, my years as a teacher here have been anything but smooth when it comes to dealing with racism. For the past seven years, I’ve taught rhetoric and literature classes to undergraduate students, and from the very beginning, I’ve taught from a decolonial feminist viewpoint to empower students, especially students of color, to learn about and envision a world outside of whiteness. This means that I talk about the hard stuff in my classroom, like anti-Blackness, the pervasiveness of toxic masculinity and the importance of acknowledging that systems of oppression exist just about everywhere, including the very university my students attend.

As you can imagine, it’s damn near impossible for someone like me, a Latinx woman who looks younger than I actually am and stands at a mere 5’1”, to garner the same level of respect as my white colleagues, but it’s doubly hard when I refuse to participate in the long legacy of letting racist and sexist narratives go unchecked in my classroom.

Shortly before Campus Carry became law, a white male student in my class gave a presentation in which he vehemently insisted that most Latinx people were drug dealers and gangsters. When others attempted to engage in a healthy debate, albeit with calm and measured frustration, the student took to anger, hurling insults and stereotypes with a ferocity that frightened me and, by the looks of it, his peers. Because of this, I asked the student to leave the classroom. When class ended ten minutes later, he waited to confront me, stepping into my personal space so as to assert his physical dominance and command of the situation.

Despite reporting what happened, I had to continue teaching the student for the rest of the semester, which meant that every class was an exercise in conquering fear and anxiety just so that I could do my job. In the back of my mind, I couldn’t help but think, “What if this kid brings a gun to class?” And this was all before firearms were allowed, by law, in classrooms.

Of course, there are some who say that maybe I should be the person with a gun, that the fears and anxieties of many might be relieved if teachers like me are trained and armed so that if someone did pull out a gun, we’d be there to save the day. Interestingly, many conservatives are worried that people like me are brainwashing students with liberal ideology, and yet they trust me with a gun—a logic I find inherently flawed.

Nevertheless, the only weapon I’m interested in using, the one for which I have undergone extensive training and developed certain expertise, is knowledge. And here’s what I know: with every school shooting that occurs, I grow a little more paranoid, and a little more hesitant, to speak the truth.

Read: Safety For Immigrant Students Means Addressing Gun Violence – But Not Just That

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