Entertainment

A Latina’s Viral Facebook Post Sends Message To First-Generation Students: “You cannot behave like the rest of them”

A new fall season is upon us, which means it’s time to hit the books and go back to school. For some of us, “back to school” can ignite dread, anxiety, and stress. For others, it could mean a time to reunite with friends or go full-throttle into our studies. For most of us, going back to school fuels feelings that teeter between anxiety and utter joy. It’s a confusing time, especially for those incoming freshmen Latinas that will be entering a whole new world of firsts, doubts, and loneliness.

College life isn’t just about studying for so many children who are first-generation immigrants. Instead, for many, education and the potential paths it can lead us to, weighs heavier.

Valeria Alvarado, a Texan Fulbright scholar, wrote an incredible Facebook post that highlights the hardships that first-generation Latinas will face as freshmen in college.

Credit: Facebook/@valeria.alvarado

Alvarado, who’s currently in Serbia as an English Teaching Assistant, began her letter of advice to Latinas by saying, “You’re gonna see all the other freshmen moving in with their families, taking box after box into their rooms, while you’re standing there, alone, with your two maletas [suitcases] and backpack. It’s sucks; I know. And you’re going to be meeting so many different types of people and students. You’re going to see the other students sometimes online shopping during class. You. Can. Not. Be. Like. Them.”

“You. Can. Not. Be. Like. Them” was the overall general theme of Alvarado’s post, and it hits home for so many of us who have been in those shoes.

Credit: Facebook/@valeria.alvarado

Alvarado’s post went live 24 hours ago and has had almost 8K shares.

She goes on to say in her post that while other students may be partying it up, and taking school for granted, Latinas have to remain focus because our life depends on this privilege of being able to go to college. There’s no slacking off in school for us, she wrote, “Estás becada y no puedes actuar como los otros.” You have a scholarship, and you cannot behave like the rest of them.

Your duty, as a first-generation Latina in college, is to help your family out of poverty. You’re able to have a college education because of their hard work and sacrifices.

Credit: Unsplash

Alvarado, who became a U.S. citizen in 2013 and has been an advocate for the Latinx community since the Donald Trump’s election win, noted, “This education is for you, for your papis, your siblings, your community.” She also expressed concern over your mental health which will be immensely affected by this new period in college. She reminds you, though, that you have much more strength than you know because your family has strength.

You will want to give up, she wrote. You will be frustrated, but rest assure your work in college will pay off.

Credit: Unsplash

It will feel like the future of your family depends on your studies, and it does. That means you have to know that your worth is what put you in college in the first place, she offered. That is what will pull you through your college days when you’re feeling frustrated and lonely.

Alvarado not only offered words that were 100 percent on point, but she also provided words of encouragement and support.

Credit: Unsplash

“You have people who LOVE you. You have little Latina girls that you are INSPIRING. You have abuelitos, abuelitas, tías, y tíos that BRAG about you cuando están chismeando. You have friends and neighbors that are so PROUD of you. Eres el orgullo de tu familia.”

She finished her touching post by giving tips which including a message to Latinas to call their abuela when they want to make comfort ford.

More than anything, Alvarado wants first-generation Latinas to know that their self-worth and that dedication makes us stand out above the privileged elites who take school for granted.

“You are the first, but not the last,” she wrote. “So unpack those two suitcases with pride. You are powerful.”

People loved her words of wisdom and shared their own stories of going away to college for the first time.

Ashley Cruz commented on Alvarado’s post by writing, “Oh freaaakk I remember moving to San Francisco with 4 maletas, $100 in my pocket, and no family to move me in but it is so fucking worth it.” Merrina Mendez-Itima wrote, “I seriously felt this so much! If you’re reading this you got this mama and you have a team behind you who did it before you!”

Share this with any college freshmen you know!

This Latina Used Her Business Savvy to Launch An App That Helps Undocumented Students Find Financial Aid

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This Latina Used Her Business Savvy to Launch An App That Helps Undocumented Students Find Financial Aid

In senior year of high school, Sarahi Espinoza Salamanca was told by her school’s guidance counselor that her dream of attending a four-year college was not in the cards for her. Salamanca, who had just found out that she was undocumented, had worked up the courage to tell her counselor about her immigration status. Instead of the support she was looking for, she was instead met with a discouraging response. “…She said to me, ‘People like you don’t go to college,’” Salamanca recently told Remezcla. Salamanca, needless to say, was devastated. 

Unfortunately, due to Salamanca’s status as an undocumented immigrant, she wasn’t eligible for federal financial aid. And because Salamanca was one of 11 children, she didn’t have the financial means to pay for college out-of-pocket. According to Salamanca, the conversation with her guidance counselor broke her “into a million pieces”. “This was the moment where I lost all hopes of being the first in my family to go to college”. But in the end, Salamanca had the last laugh. 

Years later, Salamanca used this experience to inspire her to create “Dreamers Roadmap”–a free mobile app that helps undocumented students find financial aid for college. 

While Salamanca was unable to take the traditional educational route that many entrepreneurs take, she instead used her grit and business-savvy to commit to changing the system that had failed her. “It took me a while to realize that I was probably not the only one in this situation,” Salamanca told Forbes. Once she had that revelation, she decided it was up to her to fix the problem. Instead of taking the traditional four-year college route, Salamanca enrolled in community college and got to work building her own business.

First, Salamanca devoted herself to creating a blog that gave undocumented and low-income students information about scholarship opportunities. When realized that she was one of 3.6 million Dreamers in the U.S. who were unable to qualify for federal financial aid, Salamanca realized she had an un-tapped market on her hands. Deciding to go a step further, Salamanca decided to create an app specifically for undocumented students who were looking to fund their college education. Despite having no formal background in tech, she applied for tech competitions–like the 2013 Hackathon for Dreamers. She left that competition with renewed confidence in both her ideas and her leadership abilities. It was then that she committed to both bringing her app idea into fruition and taking on a role as CEO.

Spurred on by her initial success, Salamanca decided to try her hand at the Voto Latino Innovators Challenge in 2014.

At the time, Voto Latino (founded by Latina actress Rosario Dawson) had put out a call for “Millennial-led projects that will improve the lives of and expand opportunities for Latinos in the U.S.”. Taking a leap of faith Salamanca decided to apply for the priciest grant: $100,000. Although she had no idea if she’d win, she decided it was worth a try. ” I thought to myself, ‘Well if I win even half, that’s a huge win for my project'”. And it seems that Voto Latino recognized the potential of her project as well.

Salamanca was ultimately chosen as a finalist for the competition and entered the final rounds in Washington D.C. as the only community college student as well as the only sole-female founder. At the challenge, Salamanca pitched her project to a panel of all-star judges that included Rosario Dawson, America Ferrera, and Wilmer Valderrama. Apparently, Salamanca made an impression. Voto Latino gave “Dreamers Roadmap” a grant of $100,000 towards funding. 

Now that Sarahi Espinoza Salamanca is CEO of her own company, her future has never been brighter. 

Salamanca has come a long way from being told that college is “not for people like her”. Now, Dreamers Roadmap has over 30,000 users and is integral to the college-admission process for many undocumented students. Not only was Salamanca named a “Champion of Change” at the White House in 2014, but she also received a House of Representatives Award in 2015, and placed in Forbes’ prestigious 30 Under 30 list. Although she has encountered numerous obstacles in her life due to her ethnicity, gender, tax bracket, and immigration status, she has overcome them all through determination and perseverance. 

But more than any of these other accomplishments, it’s the impact she’s had on people’s lives that is the most impressive. To date, Dreamers Roadmap has helped over 20,000 students find scholarships for college. “We hear from our users via social media or email on how our app has changed their lives,” she said in an interview with Forbes. “Hearing their stories reminds me that we are doing a good job and fulfilling our mission of bringing hope and financial opportunities to immigrant communities”. 

From Latin Trap ‘Rude Boy’ To Harvard Speaker: Bad Bunny Was Invited To Give A Talk To Harvard Students

Entertainment

From Latin Trap ‘Rude Boy’ To Harvard Speaker: Bad Bunny Was Invited To Give A Talk To Harvard Students

This year has seen Bad Bunny jetsetting from country to country on his long-awaited European tour. Last week, however, the king of Latin trap made a special visit that wasn’t included in his tour itinerary. Bad Bunny was invited to Harvard University to share his insights and career advice with a few lucky students, aspiring musicians and creatives.

credit Instagram @badbunnypr

Bad Bunny attended Harvard University last week —but not as a student or to film a new music video, the rapper was invited to give a talk on music and activism.

credit Instagram @badbunnypr

The Puerto Rican artist offered a talk at Harvard University last week, in which he discussed the way he wants to open up space for activism and protest within his music and his presentations. Benito Martinez —the rapper’s real name— also talked extensively on inclusion, which has been a strong element in music videos. He touched upon his gender-flexible art, which has positioned him as somewhat of a queer icon, and his wish to create socially inclusive spaces. 

The talk was hosted by ‘No Label’ a platform that has become an essential key in the music industry to provide space that allows artists to be themselves.

credit Instagram @badbunnypr

The talk that El Conejo Malo imparted last Friday at Harvard, was part of a monthly series called Uncut by No Label —an agency that curates “nontraditional spaces for artists to share ideas they actually care about.” The creative agency ‘No Label’ has fostered spaces for artists like Travis Scott, JID, Cousin Stizz —and most recently Bad Bunny— to develop themes from creativity, to criminal justice reforms.

The talk was directed by a Harvard scholar who studies Reggaeton and the impact it has on the island of Puerto Rico.

credit Twitter @ZalUIbaorimi

Last Friday’s talk was directed by Professor Petra Rivera-Rideau, a scholar who studies race and ethnic identities and popular culture in Latin America and U.S. Latina/o communities. Rivera-Rideau is the author of the book “Remixing Reggaeton: The Cultural Politics of Race in Puerto Rico”, which studies the political history of reggaeton on the Caribbean island.

This was Bad Bunny’s second visit to an academic institute during the month of October.

credit Twitter @mcdonaldscorp

Benito’s been doing the rounds in the academic sphere as of late. He first visited an academic institute on the 10th of October, when he appeared by surprise in the city of Hialleah, in Miami-Dade County, to announce a scholarship program aimed at low-income Hispanic students, whom he recommended not to abandon studies .

The famous reggaetonero called on the 300 students gathered in the auditorium of the institute “to continue studying and give the best of oneself to succeed in life.”

Benito is known for taking a stand and taking to the streets to demand change.

credit Twitter @blockholy

Earlier this summer, while on a break in Ibiza, the Latin trap star tweeted that he was putting the tour on hold to join protestors in Puerto Rico. Using the hashtag #RickyRenuncia, Bad Bunny and thousands of other Puerto Ricans called for the resignation of Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló, who was embroiled in a corruption scandal.

The urban music icon took to Instagram to share his political views and to rally his fellow Puerto Rican followers to join the protests.

credit Twitter @blockholy

“For years, decades, the system has taught us to stay quiet,” said Bad Bunny in one of two Instagram videos posted in July and since deleted. “They’ve made us believe that those who take to the streets to speak up are crazy, criminals, troublemakers. Let’s show them that today’s generations demand respect […] The country doesn’t belong to them, it belongs to all of us.”

Residente, Ricky Martin and Olga Tañon joined Bad Bunny in protests against Roselló.

credit instagram @ricky_martin

Bad Bunny was just one of the celebrities (along with Ricky Martin and others) who was on the ground in Puerto Rico calling for the governor’s resignation—which he eventually (and reluctantly) gave. “Yesterday marked me forever,” he wrote in Spanish on Instagram. “I had never felt so much pride in my life! However, the fight continues PUERTO RICO!”

That was not the first time Bad Bunny confronted the island’s head of state.

credit instagram @ricky_martin

In January, Bad Bunny and fellow Puerto Rican rapper Residente, showed up unannounced to the governor’s mansion in the wee hours of the morning, to address the island’s high crime rate. Back then, they only had diplomatic words for Rosselló; but in their brand new track “Afilando Los Cuchillos”, or “Sharpening The Knives,” Bad Bunny shares his most politically incisive commentary yet. “Let all the continents know that Ricardo Rosselló is an incompetent, homophobic liar,” spits Bunny in Spanish: “A delinquent, no one wants you…not even your own people.”

Bad Bunny is an example of what a well-rounded artist can accomplish and how empowering his work can be. Whether he’s selling out arenas, taking the time to protest for causes he believes in, or speaking to students about the industry, we can’t wait to find out what the ‘callaita’ singer has in store for us next.