New Central American Studies degree offered at ELAC

Professor Jocelyn Duarte of the Chicana/o Studies Department speaking during a press conference announcing the new Central American Studies degree at East Los Angeles College.

By Teresa Acosta

Students can earn an Associate of Arts Degree in the newly offered Central American Studies program at East Los Angeles College. The program has California State University and University of California transferable courses. The equity-minded curriculum is the first of its kind in California and will include courses on Central American studies, literature, arts and film. 

At a press conference Friday, Los Angeles Community College District Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez said Central Americans are the second largest group of students at ELAC. He said the Chicana/o Studies Department has added 10 new faculty members to teach its ethnic studies courses. He hopes to use the ethnic studies program at ELAC as a model for expansion to all nine LACCD colleges as well as other colleges in California and beyond.

Second-year student Jesenia Yanez, who is of Mexican and Guatemalan heritage, said that by expanding the information available to students, and helping them discover their roots in Central America, it can help address the issues they face.

“It will allow me to have [a] better understanding of my own community and share this knowledge with my parents who might not have known this information themselves of their own motherland,” Yanez said.

Professor Jocelyn Duarte of the Chicana/o Studies Department said the program is meant to help prepare the next generation of leaders and to facilitate the changes needed in the community. Duarte said this addition to the department will provide students with a relative and challenging curriculum to help prepare them for transfer to four-year colleges and leadership roles.

“Students will be able to become the experts of their very own community,” Duarte said.

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