The Chicano and Latino Studies Department at CSULB was honored in September at the 10th annual Nuestra Imagen Awards Benefit as the 2006 recipient of Excellence in Higher Education Service Award. Sponsored by the Long Beach Centro Community Hispanic Association (CHA), the award recognizes the department’s importance for first-generation college students and for those who come from working-class families. Proceeds from the awards event benefit low-income Hispanic youth, families and neighborhoods in Long Beach.
“We’re very pleased to receive this award,” said department chair Victor Rodriguez. “This award represents recognition of work done by our faculty and students for the last 36 years, and it recognizes this department’s commitment to working with the Long Beach community. It is doubly gratifying to be recognized for doing what is already the department’s mission. This is very exciting.”
According to Rodriguez, over the last three years, the number of students majoring in Chicano and Latino studies has more than tripled, going from 50 to 171. He attributes the growth of student majors to the department’s greatest strength – its faculty.
“Our faculty has a vocation to teach and serve students. Some serve as advisors to student organizations while others deliver mock lectures in Spanish to anxious parents during student orientation,” he pointed out. “It has been a very enriching experience. We do a lot more than just be in the classroom. In addition to our scholarship, it is the department’s mission to extend itself beyond the confines of the campus.”
Rodriguez noted that there is broader work done by the department on behalf of the community such as faculty who write policy briefs about such topics as education. The department, he said, is trying to be more than an academic unit. It wants to be a spokesperson and advocate for the Latino community. He also believes the department’s social commitment demonstrates advocacy that is part of a tradition of solidarity in the Latino movement.