María Velazquez is a fourth year undergraduate student at the University of Iowa where she is double majoring in International Studies and Spanish. She currently serves as the Vice President of Programming and Development for Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority Inc. and serves as an internship mentor for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. Upon graduation she hopes to obtain a master’s degree in educational policy and administration.
As part of my election speech to become the Vice President of Programming and Development, I proposed to my sorority sisters a Favianna Rodriguez event to my sorority sisters. Upon receiving this position, I set up to make this idea a reality. My sorority, Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, a multicultural sorority founded at the University of Iowa in 1990, led the efforts to bring Favianna Rodriguez to campus. I wrote many letters asking for financial support from campus departments, organizations, colleges and others. The amount of support I received was overwhelming; everyone was excited to have Favianna on campus and bring attention to issues that are very relevant to our Latino community.
Favianna Rodriguez is an activist and intellectual from Oakland, California who has traveled the world leading workshops and discussions. She uses her art as a means to create social change, civic engagement and awareness. Rodriguez has gone to numerous other college campuses to talk about her campaign, Migration is Beautiful, along with her other projects. Rodriguez utilizes her art to convey her opinions, thoughts and emotions about migration, global politics, social inequality, patriarchy and the power art has to fight these issues. She has dedicated herself to empowering women and people of color to take charge of the narrative being portrayed in mainstream media and make it their own.
The evening of October 13st, a national celebration day for Christopher Columbus, was the night when Favianna Rodriguez’s first event on campus was held; Migration is Beautiful. A crowd of about 150 students, staff, professors and community members eagerly gathered to hear what Favianna had to say. Favianna spoke about her personal journey and connection to immigration and gave a history of past anti-immigration policies and explained present day conditions. She shared how her campaign, Migration is Beautiful, came to be and encouraged the audience to use art as a means to create change and call out injustices. Favianna was very open and comfortable with the audience and created a conversational atmosphere. She spoke about issues that are often taboo in our Latino communities and offered a space where we could openly discuss them. Immediately following her speech, she proceeded to lead a poster-making workshop where she provided one-on-one advice to students and empowered their voices.
Having Favianna at the University of Iowa campus was refreshing and empowering. Seeing an unapologetic, empowered Latina talk to us about her journey and have us relate to the narrative makes it that much more powerful and impactful. We need to encourage more visits and programs that allow us, minority students, to see empowered leaders that we can relate to and learn from.
“There’s only one way to break the silence on these topics, and that’s to talk about them in an authentic way to inform the uninformed.” – Favianna Rodriguez
This entry was posted in College Attainment, Community Involvement and tagged Civic Engagement, College Access, Empowerment, Favianna Rodriguez, Hispanic Heritage Month, Migration is Beautiful, Social Change, University of Iowa.