Chican@ Studies Department peer advisors hosted a Graduate School workshop Thursday evening in the Dolores Huerta Conference Room to share information on the resources available to first generation, underrepresented students pursuing graduate education.
Chican@ Studies Department peer advisors Carmen Mares and Beatriz Cano geared the workshop toward students of color, providing information about the application process to obtain a master’s degree or a Ph.D. The presentations provided an overview about applying for financial aid, studying for the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) and making connections with faculty members to get into a desired graduate program. Current graduate students discussed potential routes to graduate school and personal circumstances which motivated them to continue their education.
Third-year Chican@ studies and Black studies double major Veronica Mandujano said she was compelled to attend this workshop because she does not know anyone who has gone to graduate school prior to the workshop.
“I just want to know every resource available to me,” Mandujano said. “I want to know who I can link up with, and who can offer me information when I need it.”
Mandujano said the workshop offered several resources for attendees, including information about fellowships, paying for grad school and out-of-state schooling.
“It was a great presentation and I learned a lot but mainly planning ahead, planning as much as much as you can … and the different types of grad schools that are available,” Mandujano said. “Speaking to current grad students was just kind of a more personal time to understand their experience.”
Chican@ studies teaching assistant Terri Cecchine said she went through the same experiences and felt it was her responsibility to relay information about the graduate school process to students.
“I am the first in my family to pursue a Ph.D., to receive a masters, so when I was approached by Carmen and Betty, of course I wanted to help out,” Cecchine said. “I have to help those that are following in the path that I have carved out for myself, it’s not easy for everyone to get here and so now that we are here, it’s really important that we network and give back, and give our wisdom.”
According to Cecchine, a low percentage of minority students acquire Ph.D.’s due to financial and social circumstances.
“I feel like it’s really hard given the obstacles that a lot of people of color are born into – the lack of resources, lack of network, lack of peer support and lack of parental support,” Cecchine said. “For whatever reason, all of those things are prominent in white communities or communities that don’t have financial stipulations, so they are obviously given a lot more access to education.”
Chican@ studies department peer advisor Carmen Mares said she held the workshop because she would like more guidance in applying to graduate school, and felt many other students were in the same position.
“Being a peer advisor here has helped me provide resources to other students, especially students that are Latino, Chicano that are first generation,” Mares said. “That’s a goal as a peer advisor to help other students like me that don’t really know what their career goals are at the moment.”
Chican@ studies department peer advisor Beatriz Cano said her main goal was to reach out to first-generation students upon becoming a peer advisor.
“[My goal is] to reach out to Chicanos, to let them know that they weren’t alone, they didn’t have to struggle,” Cano said.
Cano said she wanted to host the workshop because she was struggling to find resources to aid her graduate school application process.
“I am pretty sure that people are interested in grad school and are struggling as bad as we are and so the purpose of this workshop is for us to help them and to help ourselves, to create this community,” Cano said.