East Los Angeles College celebrates Raza Day LA

By Joshua Inglada

Raza Recruitment and Retention Center de University of California, Berkeley volunteered in collaboration with East Los Angeles College to promote student awareness through Raza Day LA.

The event was held March 28 at the S2 Recital Hall, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This is the group’s fifth celebration for Raza Day LA.

Latinos, Chicanos and others are who Raza focuses on with its workshops. Raza’s services extend to those from middle and high school students and parents.

Vice President of Student Services Oscar Valeriano Jr. talked about the struggles his family and the Chicano community face while he was growing up.

Valeriano wanted students to know what they can accomplish if they preserve through tough times. He mentioned how his pursuit of education led him to reach the position he holds now.

Valeriano urged students to put what they learn to good use and improve their surroundings.

“We all have a story, and your story should be about how you’re going to come back to your community and change it,” Valeriano said. “We all have a dream, and yours should be about how you’re going to go even higher.”

Valeriano also advised students to ask their family for support if they ever found themselves in trouble.

“Make sure to always talk to your mothers, fathers, abuelitos and abuelitas for help. They have experience because they’ve already seen it all,” Valeriano said.

After Valeriano’s speech, UC Berkeley volunteer Diana Rosendo took the stage and listed the workshops the audience could take across the campus. One of them was centered on aiding students having trouble adapting to college life after leaving home.

Another open workshop was Latinos in STEM, where students of the Latino community were given information on how to advance in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math for their education.

The Raza Recruitment and Retention Center is a student-run organization from UC Berkeley that began in the 1970s. Its purpose is to recruit and retain underrepresented student groups to help them with their education. It also hosts events to get people together and aid them in getting to know each other better.

“A lot of people tend to drop out of college because they don’t really feel at home,” UC Berkeley volunteer Marisol Cuong said.

Parents who showed up for Raza Day LA were allowed to stay in the conference room for a presentation on useful tips for education. The presentation was delivered completely in Spanish for the non-English speakers to understand better.

Members of the Folklorico Dance Club from South East High School performed a dance for the audience. Due to the air-conditioning in the S2 building not working, the performance was moved outside where it would be less stuffy.

Yocelyn Ruiz, Katherine Peña and Lissette Rodriguez entertained the audience with their dance to El Son de la Negra in beautiful, ruffled dresses.

South East High School volunteer Yasmine Marquez sang “I’m Not The Only One” by Sam Smith for a musical interlude. Following this, Rosendo told a few jokes to the audience in Spanish.

Katheryne Martínez, another volunteer from UC Berkeley, sang “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King while the crowd clapped and sang along with her.

The Folklorico Club returned after a break and performed a second dance to cap off Raza Day LA. They danced to “El Toro Mambo,” with Ruiz, Peña and Rodriguez elegantly spinning their dresses. They bowed to the applause of the audience after they finished.

Refreshments were set out for the afternoon crowd and staff to enjoy outside the building.

More information on Raza can be found on the UC Berkeley website ocf.berkeley.edu/~rrrc/ or on its Facebook group at facebook.com/razacenter for upcoming activities.

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