Woman Warrior: For Familia: Amor for All!

Blessings upon blessings:

With love and hope, I share sol soul:

19 year-old U.C. Berkeley senior Margarita has been accepted for Fall 2022 admission into the renowned Master’s in Literature program at the beautiful Banana Slug campus, the University of California at Santa Cruz!

She has fought her entire life to do difficult, delightful things for herself, her familia, and for others. She is living proof that you can accomplish anything your heart, mind, and soul wills.

In order to inspire others, especially those hurt in these hard times, I share with you her Statement of Purpose:

If accepted as an M.A. student in literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz, I plan to read and research about literature that can inspire and empower urban Latinx students to reach their full intellectual and humanistic potential. 

 Always I have immersed myself in literature because it helps me feel, think, heal, and become inspired. Literature has invited me to confront truth, build my identity, and empathize with others. I have learned about the human condition, and in doing so learned about myself and society. Literature is liberation. 

By six I was winning poetry and speech contests. At ten I won a school-district wide essay competition. In high school, however, social justice and Native literature were largely ignored. Nevertheless, outside of class I read profound texts that helped me question meaning, especially regarding sexism and racism. Emily Dickinson and Assata Shakur’s literary bravery inspired me. Teachers knew I was an advanced student and encouraged me to start college early, so I took and passed the California High School Proficiency Exam and became a full-time college student in my junior year. At 16, I challenged my full intellectual and social potential at City College of San Francisco. I learned from the elderly, the poor, people of color, academic scholars, and the LGBT community. Now the literature was not only imagined but also life-giving authentic human drama! I began reading advanced literary texts, such as The Stranger and Absolute Solitude, that covered a wide range of topics including existentialism, absurdism, and social justice issues.

But literature does not exist solely in the classroom. Literature develops and transforms one’s voice. This voice can promote understanding. I have gained a conscious voice that has led me to fight for justice and love. I have read poetry at community events, most notably the Amor for Alex Nieto movement, which became the biggest movement in history to defend a Latino victim of a police killing. I have shared with and become personally connected to international authors such as Maxine Hong-Kingston and the late Francisco Alarcon.

By 18 I was accepted as a transfer student (junior-level) English Major at U.C. Berkeley. At Cal, I have studied both standard literature courses and courses with an emphasis in African-American and Latinx literature and history. I have become well-versed in analyzing literature, whether that is Milton, American Poetry, Deviance in Women’s Literature, U.S. Border Literature and Art, and more. Not only have I gained humanistic critical thinking abilities, but I also have maintained an overall undergraduate 3.7 GPA. Throughout my academic career, I have lead classroom discussions in order to include everyone’s valuable perspective and to build empathy amongst students, which has sparked inclusiveness that I hope has helped alleviate stereotypes many of my classmates may have previously had. Unfortunately, as an English major, I am usually one of the only Latinx-Indigenous students in classes. I feel a duty to represent Latinas and other people of color who many times do not voice their opinions. Peers and professors have commended me for my courage and insightfulness.

Even though I am only 19, I am now a senior and seeking to flourish in a new adventure of life. Always I have felt a duty to be a critically thinking leader for those who are most oppressed. I want to combine my love for community and literature to empower a new generation. Being a Latinx-Indigenous woman of slight build, I feel not only do I offer a unique perspective but also I can be an inspiration for others.

Literature requires real people in order to bring it to life. Literature, at its best, teaches us to be human. One problem is that many oppressed people do not read. They do not believe in or trust the system nor even the idea that books can make them intelligent. If accepted into the M.A. program, I want to read, research, and write about literature that can connect to the struggles of Latinx Chicanx people from urban environments. It must be real empathetic grassroots human being scholars to do the work. I want to do the work. I want to help perfect strangers who need the love of literature.

Specifically, in the M.A. program, I want to read and study literature that speaks to the urban indigenous experience, such as Tommy Orange’s There, There, Oscar Zeta Acosta’s The Revolt of the Cockroach People, and films such as Mi Vida Loca. Many Latinx students consider themselves related more to Spanish roots than their indigenous roots, especially because of racism within even Latin America. This lack of education about indigeneity has long-lasting consequences for our society. Latinx-Indigenous youth feel alienated. They feel that their words do not have power. This is tragic and requires some type of solution. Brazilian educator Paolo Freire proclaimed that the word belongs to everyone. I want to help give the word back to an entire generation of urban youth.

Once I complete the internationally renowned program, I will have the knowledge to empower others. I want to have these two solid years in the M.A. program to explore, research, and study so that I can take my skills out to the world and share. If accepted into the M.A. program in literature, once I complete the program, I can teach at the community college level, or I may further my studies in law, a Ph.D program, or an M.P.A. program to perhaps start a non-profit organization. Literature develops imagination and empathy. Whatever the future holds, I plan to keep loving literature and serving others.

Margarita at Cal
Which Margarita is a senior at U.C. Berkeley? They both are 🙂
Juana Bac Chen, Margarita’s Paternal Great Grandmother: K’iche’ Maya
Beautiful University of California at Santa Cruz

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