5 Tips to support Latina/o students

5 Tips to support Latina/o students

2014 CUS MAC award

In the article, “Privilege unveiled: An Academic family for future researchers and scholars“, published in Latina/o Psychology Today, Dr. Mazzula points to the underrepresentation of “relatable faces” that Latina/o students see when they enter college.

Although racial and ethnic minorities represent less than 16% of the country’s full-time faculty, Latina/o students are now the largest ethnic minority group on four-year college campuses.

What do these statistics tell us? “Something important – that while racial/ethnic minority faculty and academics are under-represented, our community is growing, not only in numbers, but more and more educated, y con ganas y garras!”

In the article, Dr. Mazzula infuses her personal story of the struggles and discriminatory practices she faced as a Latina first generation immigrant and college graduate.  The article concludes with 5 recommendations to empower an academic family that supports the next generation of our country’s leaders.

  1. Speak up. We [professors, mentors, leaders] must not let discrimination go unnoticed. We must stand up for each other and others who experience discrimination, gatekeepers and inequalities. However, we must also become well versed in our institutional culture and intentionally “pick” our battles…
  2. Reframe mentorship. Yes, [students] need more mentors. However, not because we are unable to produce them or because we somehow have a “deficit”. We have mentors across all levels. What we need is to fight injustices and gatekeepers as a family.
  3. Be clear that there is an academic familia ready to stand together in this plight. La familia has, for many, included extended family members, blood and non-blood relatives, and members of our community.  The academic familia is a natural extension. We need an infrastructure to present this academic familia, inclusive of allies, to support those in the pipeline.
  4. Share access to information that will increase social and institutional power. We have all heard it before, it’s your skills, knowledge and expertise — but also who you know. For many of us, it takes a lot of ourselves to penetrate spaces reserved for others unlike us. When we do, we have to share our process, our stories and the tangible things we had to do along the way (e.g.., resumes, grant applications, tips on who, how and when). Let’s not keep this our secret.
  5. Identify your academic familia. Reach out and connect with people that care and are invested in seeing you grow and become even better then they are.

As our country’s major social problems persist, the importance of investing critical and diverse thinkers in the United States has never been greater. However, until we fight equality and injustices, we cannot win this fight. We all have the power to change this. You, the professor, the mentor, the academic leader, the student who has “made it” – has the power! 

Pictured above: Dr. Mazzula receiving the Making Achievement Continuous Award by undergraduate members of Chi Upsilon Sigma National Latin Sorority, Inc., at The College of New Jersey


Reference this article:  Mazzula, S. L. (2015). Privilege unveiled: An Academic Family for future researchers and scholars. Latina/o Psychology Today, 2(2), 33-36.

Latina/o Psychology Today is an official publication of the National Latina/o Psychological Association.

To learn more about the National Latina/o Psychological Association, visit http://www.nlpa.ws

Leave a Reply