Jennifer Fuentes Rodriguez ’22

Jennifer Fuentes Rodriguez '22

Majors: Political science and Asian languages and civilizations
Nationality: Honduran

On her relationship to the terms Latino/Latina/Latinx:

“After coming to the United States, especially when I was in high school, is when I started really hearing about Latino/Latina. Before that, I kind of just thought: This is who I am. I was born in Honduras, and I came to the United States [at 8 years old]. It's just my story. But then I found a group of people who also shared similar stories, who had crossed the border to come to the United States and shared similar foods. [So I found] a community with them. Then, coming here to Amherst, I also found the same type of community and more emphasis on your culture and your identity. So, I’ve been exploring or getting to know what it means to be Latina. But to me right now, it just means a community of people who share a similar background [to what] I grew up with.”

Telmo Gonzalez ’22

Telmo Gonzalez '22

Majors: Economics and political science
Nationality: Ecuadorian

On why he identifies as Ecuadorian and Latin American first and American second:

“I like to think of it [the same way] people make that distinction between their government name and [their preferred] name. [Technically, after growing up here], I am American at this point. ... I go back to Ecuador all the time. I used to go every year, every two years, and I would go back there, and I would feel very strange. I wouldn't feel Ecuadorian. I would feel like an outsider. I would constantly forget the slang. I would constantly forget a lot of Spanish words. So, that’s when I would feel super American, and it would feel terrible because it feels like I just have a complete disconnect that I didn't see coming. … So in that sense, yes, technically I am American, and it’s not that I’m afraid or completely against it. It’s just not who I necessarily feel I am.”

Frida Hernandez ’24

Frida Hernandez '24

Major: Chemistry
Nationality: Mexican American

Reflecting on her identities:

“It was hard. … But thinking about all of those things, at some point being here at Amherst, I became proud of it. I was like, yeah, I'm a woman. Yeah, I'm a Latinx woman. Yes, I work in STEM, and yes, I am FLI [first-generation, low-income student]. All of these identities that kind of just stack up, it makes me proud to think that despite all of them, I was still able to go into a field where there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of diversity and inclusion, especially inclusion. So, [it makes me] happy to think about it and help inspire other people, which is why I became a peer mentor for the Meiklejohn Fellowship as well. I wanted other people to see: Yes, you can do it.”

Guilherme Santos Rocha ’24

Guilherme Santos Rocha '24

Prospective Majors: Sociology, computer science and economics
Nationality: Brazilian

On their relationship and connection to the term Latinx:

“Before [moving] here, [the term Latinx] did not exist. There was no Latinx [in Brazil]. ... Back home when we were learning about geography, it would be like, ‘Oh, this is South America. This is Central America. This is North America. There are some people, for some reason, they use the term Latin American, but it makes no sense because there is no relationship between us.’ And then when I [came] here, everyone uses Latinx and worse than that, everyone uses Hispanic. … Brazilians are descendants of the Portuguese. Why are people using Hispanic? So, I had no relationship to the term before that. I didn't even think of myself in terms of Latinx. But when I came here, I found lots of similarities between, for example, me and my culture and my friends from El Salvador or my friends from Chile or Uruguay. Somehow, even though we are very different, there are still lots of similarities between us, and I felt more comfortable being called Latin American or Latinx. … What we need the most [in our community] is connection. We need to be connected with students from similar backgrounds [to] ours. We need to be connected with the culture that we grew up in, and we had to be separated from to come here. [That is] completely different [from awareness about our culture]... [Awareness] is important, but that's not what we need. We need to be connected, [Latinx] international and American students. We need to get to know the differences and the similarities between our cultures, and we need to connect with our culture and each other.”

Kyabeth Rincón '22

Kyabeth Rincón '22

Majors: Political science and Spanish
Nationality: Dominican

On the ways her culture has shaped her:

“Culturally, I always carry and [think] about my Dominican-ness, my Dominicanidad. I tie it to my success. ... During college applications, my whole thing was I want to get to this place where there are so few of us so I can pave the path. Not that everybody needs to follow my path, but just to show that it's possible. My mom, she struggled so much. I carry my mom's struggles, my dad's struggles, my grandma’s struggles. I carry them all on my back, in the back of my head. … because they dreamed about this. I know that when my parents came here, they came here in pursuit of all the opportunities that I have here now. But they were met with so many [barriers]. They were here so [young]. They had so many difficulties to deal with that they weren't able to carry out their dreams. So now, my dream is carrying them out.”