Award-winning alumna sticks to her roots
Friday, Apr 13, 2012
Griselda Guevara-Cruz '11 holds her award, left.
Griselda Guevara-Cruz ’11 is ready to pay it forward.
The experiences and relationships the alumna fostered at Whitman College have led to notable achievements in her postgraduate life.
Guevara-Cruz recently won the 2012 Frederick A. Cervantes Premio Award for the best undergraduate paper on Chicana/o Studies at the 2012 National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies Annual Conference.
“I was surprised when I learned that I had won. I did not mention it to anyone for a couple of days. I thought it was a mistake!” Guevara-Cruz said.
Her undergraduate paper, part of her honors thesis, focused on the representation of immigrant Mexican men in the songs of Los Tigres del Norte – one of the most important and influential regional music groups in the U.S.
The complete title of her work is: “La experiencia de los inmigrantes Latinos dentro de los Estados Unidos a través de la musica y la cinematografia.”
Guevara-Cruz worked under the guidance of her former advisor, Nohemy Solórzano-Thompson, associate professor of Spanish. In fact, she credits Solórzano-Thompson for urging her to submit her paper for the award.
Having won such a prestigious award, Guevara-Cruz wants to give back to the community inwhich she grew up so that others can follow in her footsteps.
“As a product of the public school system, I saw too many students, in particularly Latinos, fall through the cracks. As a member of this community, I hope to challenge the odds that are against these students,” Guevara-Cruz said.
Guevara-Cruz’s family history and her community are rich in culture. She is a first- generation Chicana of Mixtec heritage. (The Mixtec are indigenous Mesoamerican peoples from the Mexican region known as La Mixteca.) Guevara-Cruz grew up speaking Mixtec as her first language. Her second was Spanish, and her third was English. Guevara-Cruz’s family immigrated from the Mixtec region of Oaxaca, Mexico, 20 years ago to Portland, Ore., where she was born, and then to Washington State where she was raised.
The Spanish major is one of the first members of her family to graduate from college.
“Before graduating from Whitman, I decided I wanted to give back by inspiring potential in students who have faced adversities similar to or greater than mine,” Guevara-Cruz said.
Guevara-Cruz is creating support networks for youth that come from similar backgrounds as her own. She also serves as a college and career coach at a middle school in the greater Seattle area through College Success Foundation & AmeriCorps.
Guevara-Cruz plans on one day attending graduate school, but for now she is “focusing her efforts on setting the foundation for more Latinos to aspire and pursue higher education.”
“It is of great value for me to serve in a program that works hard to keep children in school and instill in them the desire to thrive in life by setting goals to attend institutions of higher learning,” Guevara-Cruz said.
Elizabeth Cole ’15