ELAC honors students accepted at conference

By Annette Quijada

Cynthia Solis
Evelyn Martinez
Joceyln Hernandez

Three East Los Angeles College students, Evelyn Martinez,  Jocelyn Hernandez and Cynthia Solis applied to the 21st Annual Honors Transfer Council of California Research Conference and they all got in. 

HTCC allows California Community College honor students to participate in academic research and encourages them to present their work at research conferences. Martinez, Solis and Hernandez first began their research as an assignment based on Chicanos in contemporary society. Each student seperate research on different subjects. 

Martinez’s research presentation, “Undocumented Shouldn’t Mean Uneducated: Breaking Barriers by Improving Resource Centers,” focuses on the improvements of Los Angeles Community College Districts Dream Resource Centers. Martinez is an undocumented student who from personal experience has found that community college DRCs could use improvements. “One of the main findings I had was that the center needs more advocating and students need more knowledge of the services,” Martinez said. 

Martinez’s method of research used a survey she sent to representatives of each of the DRCs in  the nine LACCD colleges. “Based on the information I received…there are budget issues and not enough money being invested into the centers, as well as the lack of staff,” Martinez said.

Hernandez’s presentation, “From ELAC to UCLA: Testimonios (Testimonies) From Latina Transfer Students,” investigates the transfer pipeline for ELAC students that seek transfer or have transferred to the University of California, Los Angeles. She specifically looks at Latina community college transfer students . “My central argument is that the community college system is the primary point of entry to a university and obtaining a degree for Latinos. Yet not enough are transferring,” said Hernandez.

Hernandez said she was only able to find statistical data on the amount of Latinas who transfer to four year universities , she was not able to find the reason. 

“I collected my data through testimonials. I interviewed Latina students who attend ELAC to add context to the statistics and found that there’s a disconnect. A lot of Latina transfers don’t believe they can transfer to institutions like UCLA. These Latina students don’t think that transfer is possible, their main goal is getting their AA degree and therefore don’t look into transfering,” Hernandez said. 

She said the community college system is worth adjusting to meet the needs of students transfering. She said her own experience and lack of support in terms of transferring influenced her work. Hernandez currently works as a tutor at ELAC. Her job allows her to meet students at a personal level and meet their personal goals. She said a lot of the students she works with want to transfer but they have a lack of confidence.

Solis’s research presentation is titled, “Moving Away from Machismo: Bad Bunny Skillfully Battles Toxic Masculinity in Society through his Music.” Her research argues that Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio (Bad Bunny) is currently the only Reggaeton artist to fight toxic masculinity. She focuses on Reggaeton music and the continuous pattern artists have used targeting women. 

“Bad Bunny encourages women to take a stand, telling the male population to stop being machistas. As a Latina I grew up listening to Reggaeton and being a feminist I noticed the constant targetting of women.” Solis said. 

Solis said Bad Bunny is taking steps against toxic masculinity in the way he dresses as well as with his song, “Yo Perreo Sola.”

Martinez and Hernandez both had the same mentor. Nadine Bermudez is a professor in the Chicano Studies Department. Both agree  Bermudez had a big part in giving them the confidence they needed to submit their work for the conference. Solis’s mentor is Nadia Swerdlow. Solis said Swerdlow helped her edit and compose her presentation abstract and her guidance allowed for Solis to ready her research for presentation. 

Out of over 700 Honor students enrolled only Hernandez, Martinez and Solis had confidence and time to apply to the conference. 

Hernandez said, “Hopefully this year or next, other ELAC honor students have the courage to submit their own works. I’m excited to let other ELAC students know it’s possible and we can take up space.”

“As a transfer student it’s nice to know that I will leave ELAC and my name will still be somewhere,” Martinez said. 

Solis said, “I would tell students that they’re a lot more capable. Don’t be scared to submit their [ELAC students] paper especially on interesting topics with little background information to pave new ways for future generations.”

The conference is hosted by University of California, Irvine and occurs annually in the spring. All three honorees are waiting for their university transfer acceptances. 

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