In high school, Itzayana Barrera felt disempowered because of her undocumented status. Her mother had always stressed the importance of education as a valuable tool that no one could take away, but Barrera received little academic support from the people who were supposed to help her.
“My counselor told me that I wasn’t able to further my educational career,” said Barrera. “And I was distraught because I believe that everyone can do whatever they put their mind to.”
Barrera transferred to Silver Creek High School the next year, and her experience was wildly different. The principal at that school empathized with her and encouraged her to succeed.
“That made me feel very empowered and emotional because as a student who doesn’t have a voice in the system, I felt as if I did matter,” Barrera said. “And from then on I decided to get into De Anza and pursue my career here.”
Barrera was drawn to De Anza because of the diversity and high transfer rates. But when she got here, she felt lost. She needed a support system. Luckily, a friend introduced her to the Extended Opportunities Programs & Services (EOPS) program and to George Robles, the program supervisor.
EOPS is a state-funded program designed to help low-income students be academically successful. EOPS students receive counseling, grants for book costs and overall support to achieve their academic goals. The program serves many undocumented students, and Barrera has thrived with its support.
“I’m very happy and fortunate to have found EOPS,” Barrera added. “They really go above and beyond to help their students.”
In addition to the academic support she has received from EOPS, Barrera is now a student worker in the program’s office. She does administrative work and greets students when they come in.
“She really is our cheerleader and a great spokesperson for EOPS,” said Robles. “She does all of this with pride and a great smile.”
The job has given Barrera professional experience for her resume and inspiration for her future career.
“I get to know who the students are, and as a political science major it’s very important to be connected to the community,” she added.
Barrera hopes to give back to the community one day as an immigration lawyer. She is a member of Higher Education for AB 540 Students (HEFAS) and helps other undocumented students find support. Barrera plans to transfer to UC Berkeley -- a school she was told she could never get into. She encourages other students to keep looking for resources and never take no for an answer.
“De Anza can help you get to your ultimate goal,” she said. “The environment, the community is so open minded, and makes me feel like I belong here -- like I can make a difference in the world.”
Joint Venture Silicon Valley Holds Briefing on Poverty & Income Inequality in the Bay Area
Watch the video for highlights from the event.
Joint Venture Silicon Valley's Institute for Regional Studies recently released two research briefs on poverty and income inequality in the Bay Area. JVSV researcher Jon Haveman announced the research findings in an event held Oct. 6 at De Anza:
The event also included a panel discussion moderated by President Brian Murphy. Panelists included part-time psychology instructor LaQuisha Beckum, student activists Thảo Lê and Karla Navarro, former San Jose mayor and current Hispanic Foundation president/CEO Ron Gonzales, and SJSU instructor and minimum wage campaign co-founder Scott Myers-Lipton.
Euphrat Museum Hosts Second Art & Social Justice Institute
Over the summer, the Euphrat Museum Art hosted its second Art & Social Justice Institute, a weeklong program funded in part by a Foothill-De Anza Foundation Innovations Grant. The project was selected as De Anza College’s Innovation of the Year last spring.
Photos from the Art & Social Justice Institute
Selected students from the Learning Communities and Creative Arts created various works with assistance from African American studies instructor Julie Lewis, museum director Diana Argabrite and artist Titus Kaphar.
“Just to have the students have access to Titus’ heart, mind and brain is incredibly rare and a wonderful opportunity,” Argabrite said.
Kaphar is a former student and respected artist who served as mentor for the inaugural Institute. Last year, the theme was mass incarceration, one of the subjects of Kaphar’s own work. This year, the theme is the language of protest. Kaphar challenged the students to work collaboratively to go beyond the traditional imagery and create art with a universal message.
“Oftentimes when you see images of artists in the world they’re working in isolation,” said Kaphar. “The reality is we’re stronger when we work together -- our voice is stronger when we stand together.”
One group of students collaborated on a series of portraits of unsung female activists, including family members. Each portrait is surrounded by a halo created from a collage of images. Victor Castillo, an art major, assisted in adding depth and contrast to the drawings.
Hear Victor Castillo talk about his time as an art major
“There are a lot of really talented artists here, and not only are we doing art but also getting hands-on work with Titus,” said Castillo. “I hope people feel inspired by the touching stories [we’re] working on.”
Although all students in the institute would consider themselves activists, not all would consider themselves artists. Nor does everyone make something that can be mounted on the wall. One student choreographed a dance. Biology student Sabrina Dean, who is white, wrote a monologue responding to her father’s incredulity at her membership in the Black Leadership Collective.
“Being here allows me to be creative and see that I can express myself in other forms,” Dean said. “This summer institute is an important thing to have on campus, and I encourage people to come and see what we have to say.”
Hear Sabrina Dean talk about her time in the BLC
Student artwork is showcased at the Euphrat’s current exhibit, “Endangered." Plays and performances will take place at the reception on Tuesday, Nov. 10. As for the Art & Social Justice Institute, Argabrite plans to host it every summer if possible.
“To hear from each of the students, coming from their own experiences -- I live for that,” said Argabrite. “It’s such a privilege to be able to continue De Anza’s tradition of working social justice consciousness into different subject areas.”
Scholarship applications are now open. Students can apply by going to MyPortal and clicking on AcademicWorks. Scholarships are funded by donations from community members, and are based on a wide range of criteria such as academic discipline, community and/or on-campus service, merit and more. Please encourage your students to apply.
This year the Foundation is participating in #GivingTuesday on Dec. 1.
The Campaign for College Opportunity recently released its report, "The State of Higher Education in California: Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander." The report highlighted programs using best practices that can support AANHPI student success. One such program is the Initiative to Maximize Positive Academic Achievement and Cultural Thriving (IMPACT) AAPI - De Anza College.
Do you know a student who would make a good profile? Does your department or division have news to share with the campus community? Send information for the next campus memo to communications associate Vanessa Smith at email@example.com.