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Chicanx/Latinx in Higher Education: Si Se Puede!!!

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By Juan Zendejas

Manuel was excited to start applying to companies through online platforms like He anticipated he would be hired quickly because of the strong need for electrical technicians. His only big criteria was to stay close to home in Los Angeles, CA and he did not care if he worked for a small or large organization. Now that he was finishing his two year program he could see himself joining the workforce, getting experience and eventually growing with his employer. Maybe one day he would become a Forman Assistant if he connected with the right Electrical Engineer that he could work under.

His two years of commitment toward his schooling would soon pay off and his parents, now U.S. Citizens who originally immigrated illegally from Mexico, could not be happier.

This story is a common thread among people from various Latino communities in the U.S. and it is a good one to hear. Any education is better than none, especially because it helps your earning power in the the workforce. Manuel was going to go from earning $13.00 per hour to $16.00 after receiving his certificate.

You can find people of Latino descent working in jobs like construction, electrical technician, automotive technician, paralegal, education assistants, nursing assistants or nanny, among others. These jobs, although challenging in their own right, are usually lower paying jobs and do not require a degree in higher education like a bachelors, masters or doctorate. Should the Latino community pride themselves more on higher education rather than working as soon as possible to earn an income?

People of Latino descent are preferring to work hard in the workforce rather than work hard in the classroom to earn degrees. If this trend is flipped it will prove to be more fruitful in the long run for Latino individuals and their burgeoning communities. The number of Latinos in the workforce is great but the lack of Latinos in higher education is alarming.

In 2020, estimated that there are about 60 million Latinos living in the U.S.; this number reflects about 19% of the population. At the same time, the Center for Economic and Policy Research reported that only about 15% of all Latinos have a college degree. This mainly included Latinos with 2 year associate degrees.

Shockingly, the American Council on Education reported in 2017 that only 3.9% of Latinos have a Masters Degree and less than 1% have a Doctoral degree.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics in the U.S., completing a bachelor’s degree increased yearly earning potential by nearly $20,000, and a master’s degree attainment increased yearly earning potential by nearly $30,000.

The types of jobs and employment that Latinos tend to seek is reflective of the education that they have or do not have. If Latino people are not getting their degrees, how can we expect them to be in lead roles like Foreman, Engineer, Doctor, or Research Scientist?

To help with this issue, it is imperative that Latino’s discover the benefits of higher education early in their lives. As Latino students progress through school and begin looking for an institution of higher education, it is vital that they have access to individuals and support networks that can guide them in the process. Life experiences, mentors, parents who are open minded are certainly part of the equation. When Latino adolescents hear, “Hurry up and work” while living at home with their parents, they may do exactly that and will not hesitate to get into the workforce before earning any type of degree or maybe a quick one. Many will look back in later years and wonder about not putting as much effort into schooling as they did trying to go to work and may regret not going further in their education.

As the message begins to change in Latino homes about earning degrees in higher education versus getting out and working we will see a huge increase in higher level and higher earning positions among this community.

In a report called, The Changing U.S. Workforce – The Growing Latino Demographic and Workplace reported, “While increasing the number of Latinos who obtain STEM degrees is imperative, raising the educational attainment of Latinos in general is perhaps the best way to ensure that Latino students are prepared to fill the jobs of tomorrow.”

The nation’s Latino population is projected to grow to 119 million and be 29% of the US population by 2060 (U.S. Census Bureau). These numbers mean that latinos need to push education more than ever to ensure that we can get a piece of the pie with high level employmemt. With an increase in educational status the Latino population will have a greater impact politically on a local and national level and will be seen as an educated community with high paying jobs.

“Si se puede,” is a powerful saying in Latino communities that is often associated with working hard in your job. Keeping that mindset and using it in the area of attaining ones education will help Latino communities prosper in the U.S.

Many of the fastest-growing occupations of the future such as Therapist, Engineering Scientists, Program Data Analyst, Computer Scientist and Doctors who work on the cutting edges of technology will require more education than an associates degree and Latinos should go after those degrees before entering the workforce. It will certainly pay off in the long run.

Ponganse las pilas y estudien! Si se puede

Skipping the Lines

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by Tatiana Portillo

On Saturday, we had our third covid-19 clinic at work.

It was hectic, yet the process was smooth. We are getting anywhere from 80-200 patients per day. We currently have only one pharmacist to give the vaccinations.

The company announced that board of pharmacy approved for pharmacy technicians to give vaccinations because of the shortage in healthcare providers.

The pandemic has shown us all that we are not ready to overcome the virus. There are shortages on doses and those who can vaccinate… or so they say. I think this is great but also scary. Now, technicians will be able to assist pharmacist during the pandemic. Are pharmacy technicians qualified to give shots? We are currently taking classes and modules to prepare us for the upcoming clinics. Every technician is also practicing hands on by injecting each other with saline. The length of the processes depends on the technician’s speed. This program will help, and the clinics number of daily patients should increase once everyone is certified.

On another note, why is it that our local patients have not been able to schedule an appointment to get vaccinated but affluent people are? We had patients come from other communities while the minority group within our community have not been able to get any appointments.

People from san Diego, Beverly hills, west la, etc. came to get the doses that should have been distributed to our patients. Is our community going to be last to be vaccinated? Are we less deserving because of our economic status?

Chicanx/Latinx Communities Slow to Vaccinate

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by Sally Lopez

According to Governor Newsom, “minorities would be the first to receive the Covid-19 vaccine” and that it would be distributed to the larger latinx communities.

Yet, the vaccine has been the least given out to older Latinos compared to non-latino whites. We know that latinx communities here in California have been the hardest hit and have the highest mortality rate from ages 0-54. So why is it taking so long to vaccinate more of our latino population? The media is stating that latinos are wary and fear of the side effects, although that may be true, personal stories have said that there are other factors.

In the Los Angeles community more and more people are starting to notice that neighboring cities are taking advantage of the opportunities offered to those in low-income communities. For example, someone I know was able to receive Covid-19 tests faster by driving out to low-income communities such as Maywood and taking two up to three tests because of less slots in Culver city. Some family members working in hospital settings have also said people working within private hospitals have been jumping their family members to the front lines to receive the vaccine before those listed as Tier 1A & B ,meaning regardless of not being an “essential “ worker or a senior over the age of 60 they are receiving their first dosage. I’m not clear on how this can be happening but it is making it much more difficult for others. It makes me think maybe it is not the lack of opportunity but the fact that the opportunities are being taken advantage of.

Then again, we must factor in the lack of accessibility of information to the community. Having an immigrant status or being undocumented makes people think that they are not allowed to receive the vaccine or that they must pay to receive it but that is not true. There’s also the fact that people cannot get the information they need and the media is also causing misinformation. They are just hearing symptoms, side effects, certain people suffered from this because of mouth to mouth spreading of information. Many people do not investigate any further and make decisions upon that fear. People are scared including my own family members because so-and-so said something that made the vaccine not seem safe or seem worse than Covid-19 itself. Others have a mistrust in the whole pandemic situation and do not believe that it is something that serious but it all boils down to where they are receiving this information. How can they access not only learning more but making appointments? Going to and from appointments?

Most if not all of the Latino community are hard workers who work everyday in order to stay afloat. Many have already been sick and cannot afford to take off another day to receive the vaccine. Getting to the location can also be difficult because once you receive the vaccine it can affect your body in different ways, if someone is taking public transportation it can cause more stress to their body. There are many factors that contribute to the lack of vaccinations within the Latino community. It will certainly be a tough couple of months to get everyone safe and vaccinated. 

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