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Letter of Support for El Centro and director Elvira Prieto from 2016 Alumna

"As a person of Central American heritage, I felt welcomed, seen, and included."

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing in support of Elvira, whom I trust as an individual committed to supported and loving students. I also write in support of Centro—the first place I felt a sense of community and belonging at Stanford. As a person of Central American heritage, I felt welcomed, seen, and included.

I understand the historical context in which Centro came to be—shaped by the legacy of Mexican-American/Chicanx presence in mid-century California. I can directly see how the resources I enjoyed and benefited from at Stanford are the product of past students (like Elvira) having fought to carve out space for many like myself that would come after, and during a time where it was much more difficult to not be white and wealthy at Stanford. This history came to the forefront of my understanding when, as a student, I witnessed the process of name change to “El Centro Chicano y Latino.” It was a seemingly painstaking process that balanced the desire to honor historical legacies of past student activists with the need to reflect the changing demographics of the student body.

My experience has been that Centro and Centro Professional staff are open to feedback and change in service of equity, receptive to student voices seeking representation of the many Latinidades we embody. Some examples from my time at Stanford (2012-2016) were through the steady adoption of language in Centro communications to be more mindful of gender-expansive identities, and through the full support for my efforts as student staff to bring Bamby Salcedo, a translatina activist, to Stanford for an official Centro-sponsored event.

More individually, I will never forget the day that I cried at work, overwhelmed by anxiety, and Elvira–who I was not particularly close to–stopped her day to take me out for coffee and be present with me. Even with the demands of a community center to run, my experience was that Elvira consistently encouraged student staff to prioritize academics and rest as needed. Though my position is removed from the ongoings of campus, I keep a strong feeling of trust that Centro as an institution has its values in the right place.

Priscilla Acuña Mena, Class of 2016

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