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Letter of Support for El Centro and director Elvira Prieto from current student

"Elvira has demonstrated that serving comunidad takes more than demanding things to get done; it takes hard work, life experiences, and a genuine love for the empowerment..."

To whom it may concern,

I am writing this letter in support of Elvira Prieto, and El Centro Chicano y Latino; my support is also for the Pro Staff.

My name is Jane Hernandez, and I am a current undergraduate transfer student at Stanford University. As a Chicana woman with an Indigenous/ Mexican family background and a transfer from a California community college, my first months at Stanford were filled with thoughts of imposter syndrome and a constant urge to leave back home. To me, home is laboring the agricultural vegetable fields of Salinas, California. The first few months, I constantly fought the urge to go back to my community, as I had not found a community at Stanford University that offered empowerment, support, and a sense of belonging. Everything changed when I met Elvira Prieto.

I remember fondly the day I met Elvira and the pro-staff in person. Elvira was hosting a book talk, and through her book I was instantly empowered by her life experiences and passion to serve la comunidad, in and out of Stanford. As someone who is working towards someday serving higher education, Elvira has unknowingly been empowering me. I must add, as a woman who was a former high school dropout, who experienced homelessness, domestic violence, and the death of both of my parents while in higher education, it really does take someone very special to empower me.

Through example, and collaborative work, Elvira has demonstrated that serving comunidad takes more than demanding things to get done; it takes hard work, life experiences, and a genuine love for the empowerment of underrepresented communities.

At Stanford I have received indirect attacks on my Chicana identity by other students; the same students claim to speak for indigenous students (and other marginalized groups) while pre-supposing and erasing my own indigenous identity. The Chicane identity has been criminalized with actions from the past Chicane generations. I am tired of explaining that I am not my predecessor, I am here on campus with a thirst to create social change in benefit of all underrepresented communities. It seems that my Chicana identity has placed a label that I still can not understand; however, I can not identify any other way.

I have also received direct attacks on my status as a non-traditional transfer student; comments were made to me in the presence of other students questioning why I as a transfer student wanted to do certain things on campus. This comment questioned every achievement and everything I had to work for to obtain one of the 1% admissions spots as a transfer student. At the moment, I did not know what to say, but today I can firmly say that, “as a transfer student, that is what we do, we create change; hence, why we were admitted.”

These and multiple other similar events have tried to refrain me from achieving my full potential; yet, I have had the honor to be empowered by Elvira and the El Centro pro-staff team to be proud of my identity and all the adversities that I have had to face to proudly be a Stanford transfer undergraduate student, who happens to identify as a Chicana.

As I continue my undergraduate education at Stanford, I will continue to take Elvira’s example to someday be such a strong and caring leader for la comunidad, such as herself.

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