Latinas @ the Beach
By Sonia De Los Santos
Adapting to university life can be very challenging—especially for Latinas who aspire to reach a high level of achievement and acceptance in an academic environment where stereotypes and pseudo-perceptions about Latina women exist. Latinas @ the Beach provides a space for Latina students to interact and share testimonies about their passions for community service, community building, building bridges of social elevation, and female empowerment.
This support group has the potential to improve so many facets of the Latina experience at CSULB by increasing interaction with peer groups, developing a solid peer fortitude, and creating a strong cultural bond. We are aware that the term “Latina” means different things to different social groups, and we bear witness to this unique, yet powerful marker. Latinas @ the Beach unites students who have the same goal of pursuing higher education.
Led by Latina faculty at CSULB, the support group’s mission is to empower Latina students in their educational endeavors through social and cultural connections as well as providing mentorship with other Latina students and faculty. They aim to provide a safe social space for all Latina students where they can share their struggles and experiences with others in hopes of inspiring them to continue their academic journey.
“It was really helpful,” said Kimberly Velasquez, reflecting on her first time attending a Latinas @ the Beach meeting. “I got to meet a few other students in my majors and meet other people on campus that have similar experiences as me.”
As a growing population throughout the Long Beach community, Latinas already boast a strong presence in Southern California. However, there are areas that lack knowledge of the Latina experience as told by Latinas. Latinas @ the Beach strives to enhance the community by contributing a wide range of talents and creative expression through Latina fashion, food, and social forums, as well as our family values and sense of community.
Meetings are facilitated by Rosa Moreno-Alcaraz, Ph.D., and Cecilia Mejia. Dr. Moreno-Alcaraz has worked for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) for over 20 years, and Cecilia Mejia is the Coordinator for Student Life and Development. Latinas @ the Beach holds meetings every Thursday from 2 p.m. - 3 p.m. in the University Student Union, Room 306.