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  • Writer's pictureunheardvoicesmn

Mitzi Guizar, Latina

I've always been aware I am a Latina because my parents have always spoken Spanish at home. I struggled with language, so growing up I spoke Spanglish. I remember reminding myself as a kid thinking, "Hey Spanish at home and English everywhere else." When I was in Elementary school that's when I learned more about the culture from the teachers who taught in schools. I know growing up my parents didn't talk too much to me about our culture. They worked a lot when I was younger to afford things that we have now, and so I guess I learned a lot about our culture through school. I don't think they (the school system) did a very good job of teaching me about my culture because the U.S. usually teaches the history in their favor. I started learning more about my culture once I got older and began to ask questions.

When I was in kindergarten there were around 87 kids in the whole grade. We graduated with almost 200 students by senior year. I remember there were not a lot of Hispanic kids when I was growing up. I grew up with more white-kids. I didn’t really know a lot of Latino kids. The only Latino kids I remember growing up were my cousins, but we didn't necessarily hang out.

I took AP History and did PSEO during high school. I wasn't around much during my senior year of high school since I was a full-time PSEO student. I also did a lot of concurrent classes in my senior year so I wasn't often with my class. I did PSEO because I knew about it from friends and relatives who encouraged it. I've always known about it, so I decided to save some money and do it. At the time, they (teachers, advisors, or counselors) did not inform you about it in school because the school wants to try to save money. By the time I graduated high school, the only college prep I got was diving headfirst into Minnesota West. The high school does give you the senior transition course but doesn't prepare you as much as they could for college: financial part, being safe, the social aspects.

My parents instilled education in me from a young age. They always told me to do good in school by studying and not going out too much. I feel being Latino is a very happy culture since you're always having parties. Sometimes I feel like Latino students focus on that side of the culture a lot more than education. They focus on the now rather than the future. My dad never got the chance to have a formal education. He wanted to be a math teacher growing up, but since his parents had crops and animals they told him to focus on the farmwork. My dad regrets not continuing school. He wants me to do what he wasn't able to. I have a big family and so I've seen many relatives of mine continue school. I have two younger brothers; one is in high school, and the other one is in middle school. I did have help from the high school counselors but not in-depth. (My class is of 200, so I feel like counselors couldn't do much since they had too many students to look after). That's why if you're planning to go to college -- you have to do many things yourself. When it came to my actual application process, I didn't know what I was doing. I remember having to fill out an essay question and did not feel prepared for it.  If my cousins had not lived here, I probably would not have known so much more information about the college. They're the ones who helped me through the college process like helping me with FAFSA and what to buy and bring to college. I wouldn't have had help if they weren't around. I was able to text up my cousins with any questions I had.

In my junior year of high school, I had Mr. Kroger for Human Anatomy. I was not interested in anything in particular at the time. Once I took this course, I became interested in learning more about anatomy, about how people function, how they move, the physiological part of it. The following year I took the college version. The class got me thinking and made me start looking more at the healthcare industry, and after that, I took the concurrent class that he teaches there -- Principles of Biology. I started researching things and I started asking him more questions. He ended telling me about a PA (Physician Assistant). I told him I didn't want to do nursing. He mentioned becoming a PA. If he hadn't said this, I feel like I would've had no idea about this career. 

Years later after taking an introduction course into my major, (Intro to Exercise Science), I learned about athletic training and what it is. During Christmas break in my sophomore year of college, I spend most of my weeknights shadowing the athletic trainer for the high school, Joel Krekleberg. If it weren’t for him letting me follow him around that month, I wouldn’t be as interested and hopeful for my future career as I am now. The district may not have been the ideal place, but the people within have changed my life for the positive.

Hopes for the community:

It would be nice if people were more culturally aware and accepting. For example, someone who is a non-English speaker might have a tougher time communicating because of language barriers but that doesn't make them less than a human. Just because they have a language barrier, it doesn't mean that they're dumb. Raising your voice at them won’t help either. It’s a language issue, not a volume issue. Worthington will always be home but I am genuinely disappointed that my friends from school know my hometown as the town that “has bus drivers that are unkind to children because of the color of their skin”.

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