News @ the Beach

Father’s Tears Inspire Book

When Cal State Long Beach Professor of Spanish Maria Carreira saw her father’s tears, it inspired her to write a book titled Voces: Latino Students on Life in the United States.

The journey began about 10 years ago when Carreira  had students read the novel Cajas de carton. The novel is about an immigrant family and migrant workers in California decades ago.

Maria Carreira teaching class.

“As we started to talk about it,” said Carreira, who co-authored the book with former student Tom Beeman. “I began to discover that some of my students shared some of the experiences of the characters in the book. When my students would write their reactions to the book I started seeing these amazing stories that they would share with me. I was blown away.”

It was while reading one of those stories to her father where the idea to write a book came from.

“I remember I was reading this story to my dad and he started to cry,” said Carreira. “We started to talk and he said we shouldn’t be the only ones learning from these stories; everyone can learn from them. And it was at that point I began to think this would be a powerful thing to put into a book.”

And so it began, the pulling together of stories that had been written for one of her classes along personal interviews conducted with individuals and families. She also got assistance from colleagues and friends who, knowing the work she was doing, would forward things to her they thought were meaningful experiences and would fit into the book.

In all, Carreira estimates approximately 300 individuals were involved in the project, resulting in the book which will be available beginning Nov. 1. But this is not a book about feeling sorry for people, according to Carreira. On the contrary, it’s a book about resilience and, eventually, triumph.

Carriera book cover

“I didn’t want to make this book about hardships. To be sure, there are plenty of heart wrenching stories,” said Carreira, “but, more than that, I wanted to feature the triumphs of these students who overcame in some cases extreme poverty, in other cases being undocumented, and in other cases separation from family or discrimination. These students, as I discovered in the process of writing this book, have incredible wisdom, strength, powerful live histories and all these things enrich us if we just take a moment to hear them.

“What’s amazing about the youth featured in the book is that they don’t focus on the hardships,” she added, “As they are telling their story they very quickly turn to, ‘This is what I learned from it, this is how I got past it and this is how I reacted to it.’ So that’s where resilience, a topic I come back to many times in the book, comes in. Resilience is the ability to overcome difficult circumstances. These youths exemplify resilience and how to confront adversity with resolve, grace and wisdom.”

Another common thread throughout many of the stories was family, the importance of it and the sacrifices made.

“The family is a central player is many of the stories because many immigrants are poor, they don’t have connections in this country and they don’t know very well how to navigate some of the things in this country,” said Carreira, who noted it’s not just Hispanics, but for all immigrants for which the family is very important—it’s a unit of support because they are isolated in a way.

“It’s rare when an individual can get ahead on their own, so what you have is the strength of the family, where family members help each other. Older siblings take care of the younger siblings while the parents are at work and because of that some of the immigrant children have to grow up very quickly because they don’t have the luxury of an extended childhood. And while having to grow up quickly has its challenges, it also brings growth because it forces immigrant children to take responsibility for their wellbeing and that of others.”

The book also focuses on transformation of lives, not only the students, but their families and communities as well as a result of their success. Many who shared their story talked about how they want to make the lives of others such as themselves better.

“Many of them tell me they want to be teachers because they know what immigrant children go through in a school situation and they want to help those children succeed in school,” said Carreira. “Others want to be social workers, others want to be lawyers, but there is a common theme—they want to contribute, they want to give back.”

And while absorbing these stories for a decade and then going through the process of writing this book, Carreira herself could not help but learn more deeply about her students’ lives.

“I had been teaching these students many, many years and I thought I understood them, but this has been one of the great learning lessons for me,” she noted. “Where many of us might see formidable hardships, my students see opportunities for enormous growth and they see themselves becoming very strong as a result of these difficulties that they faced.”

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Cal State Long Beach Students First in Nation to Benefit from AB-540, Earn Scholarships, Meet Mexico’s President

Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) students were recognized recently with scholarships during the first U.S. visit by Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto at an historic event headlined by Gov. Jerry Brown, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Mexico’s Ambassador Eduardo Medina Mora and 11 Mexican governors.

Roman and Jorge are the first two AB-540 students who have been able to return to Mexico for an educational purpose, as provided by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) regulations that grants ‘dreamers’ temporary legal status and eligibility to a driver’s license and social security number, allowing them to drive and work legally until congress acts upon comprehensive immigration reform. The honor coincided with the National Hispanic Heritage Month which runs Sept. 15- Oct 15.

Armando Vazquez-Ramos (c) with Ana Roman and Jaime Jorge.

CSULB seniors Ana Barbara Roman and Jaime Jorge were among the 15 students that traveled with Chicano and Latino Studies lecturer Armando Vazquez-Ramos on a recent visit to Mexico during spring break, sponsored by Chicano and Latino Studies’ California-Mexico Policy and Higher Education class funded by College of Liberal Arts Dean David Wallace.

Assembly Bill 540, signed into law in 2001, created a new exemption from the payment of non-resident tuition for certain non-resident students who graduated from high school in California and received a diploma. DACA is a memorandum authored by the Obama administration in 2012 that directs US Customs and Border ProtectionU.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement to practice prosecutorial discretion towards some individuals who immigrated to the U.S. as children and are currently in the country illegally.

“This is a landmark precedent that I am certain will open the doors to other AB-540 students,” said Vazquez-Ramos. “It creates opportunities for students like Ana and Jaime. For them to return to Mexico for humanitarian reasons or educational purposes gives them the chance to maintain relations with family. Imagine the frustration at not being able to bid farewell to a dying relative. When you are in the U.S. without documents, going back to Mexico is impossible because you know you may have to go through hell to come back in. Young people like Ana and Jaime were brought here through no choice of their own but now are as American as anyone.”

Jorge came to CSULB from his home in Victorville on his way to graduation this December with a bachelor of arts degree in Spanish. “But I’m not stopping there,” he said. “I will go for my master’s or Ph.D in intercultural studies.”

Jorge said he felt grateful and honored to have the opportunity to be recognized for his scholarship especially by the President of Mexico and Gov. Jerry Brown. “I am very grateful and humbled to be one of the first AB-540 students to go to Mexico especially for educational purposes,” he said. “Having the opportunity to study in Mexico, has opened my eyes to a whole different perspective in the importance of intercultural studies. I’m really thankful that President Obama gave us DACA because it has opened many doors for me and for a lot of other undocumented students.”

Jorge believes he was destined to attend CSULB.

“Now that I’m here, CSULB has allowed me to expand my horizon, with the help of its amazing professors, advisers and newfound friends,” he said. “My career goals are to become a medical interpreter/translator and also to be involved in a social justice movement or a non-profit organization that deals with racism, education, immigration, sexual abuse, and gender equality.”

Roman recalled “When Professor Vazquez-Ramos called to tell me the good news, especially that I would receive the award from the President of Mexico, my emotions shot through the roof. All the hard work had paid off. It was such an honor to meet the President of Mexico and California Gov. Jerry Brown. Not a lot of students ever get that opportunity.”

Roman expects to graduate in December with a bachelor of arts in psychology, a second bachelor of arts in Chicano and Latino studies and a minor in Africana Studies.

“It was the only school I applied to after years of driving past the campus with my parents while they predicted I would go there someday. I had my doubts,” she recalled. “But I am so lucky to have met people like Professor Vazquez-Ramos. “There is a lot of support on this campus for undocumented students. I love Cal State Long Beach. Even though I’m moving on, I’ll always look back on an amazing experience.”

Vazquez-Ramos is pleased with the students’ achievements.

“Now, we not only have established a precedent, we have gotten recognition from the Mexican authorities including the President of Mexico,” he said. “What I envision for CSULB is that this campus could become a leader for a CSU California-Mexico program, similar to the UC’s Mexico Initiative, under the agreement signed by Governor Brown during his recent trip to Mexico. I’m proposing on both sides of the border, to fund for us to take 100 ‘dreamers’ to Mexico for two months next summer. Si se puede.”



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CSULB Has 2nd Lowest Student Debt Among Public Regionals in West Says U.S. News & World Report

Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) has the second lowest student debt among regional public universities in the West according to U.S. News & World Report in its Best Colleges 2015 Guidebook. It was also ranked the fifth best public regional university in the West.


“We are always honored and proud to receive such national recognition for our outstanding faculty, student and alumni achievement. Of particular importance is how well we do in keeping student debt as low as possible,” said CSULB president Jane Close Conoley. “We will continue our commitment to emphasizing educational excellence, great value and commitment to student success that have always been a tradition at the Beach.”

CSULB also was listed as having one of the top undergraduate engineering programs in the country among engineering schools whose highest degree is a bachelor’s or master’s degree.  CSULB made the top 12 percent in the country in that category. Out of nearly 400 accredited undergraduate engineering programs in the nation, CSULB is listed at No. 47 with several other programs.  The rankings are based on a survey of engineering deans and senior faculty at all accredited programs.

Adding private institutions to the mix, CSULB ranked 33rd overall among all colleges and universities in the West, a region made up of 13 states from Texas to California to Washington and includes Alaska and Hawaii.

The 2015 Best Colleges guide provides a look at how some 1,600 accredited four-year schools compare on a set of up to 16 indicators of excellence based on a number of categories, including assessment by administrators at peer institutions, graduation and retention rates of students, student selectivity and alumni giving.  The indicators also include input measures that reflect a school’s student body, its faculty and its financial resources.

The guide’s editors say they rate U.S. colleges and universities in an effort to assist students with one of the most important decisions of their lives—choosing the right college. Studies seem to back up that thinking. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, research shows that those with a college degree earn nearly twice as much as those with just a high school diploma.  The wage gap is even larger when comparing those with master’s or doctoral degrees to those with just a high school diploma. The print edition of the Best Colleges 2015 Guidebook can be purchased online now or on newsstands beginning Sept. 23.

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German Photographer Exhibit at University Art Museum

The University Art Museum at Cal State Long Beach (CSULB), in partnership with the Goethe-Institut, presents “Barbara Klemm: Light and Dark,” an exhibition by the ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen), featuring 124 iconic black-and-white photographs by one of Germany’s most distinguished photojournalists.

Opening of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Dec. 22, 1989.

Taken while on assignment for newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Klemm’s photos capture 40 years of cultural, social and political history in the formerly divided nation, creating icons of contemporary European history.

Curated by German art historians Matthias Flügge and Ursala Zeller, both of whom worked closely with Klemm, the exhibition chronicles some of the most decisive events in German history, perhaps most memorably during the 1989 reunification of East and West Germany. Though the majority of photographs were taken on assignment, Klemm created a body of photographs which combines the documentary and the artistic in a manner seldom encountered in German press photography.

The exhibition will be on view until Dec. 14 and will include the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall (Nov. 9, 1989). As a supplement to the exhibition, the museum will display artifacts and ephemera from the archive of Tom Frazier, a CSULB geography professor and post-reunification Berlin scholar. Multidisciplinary programming will be offered throughout the semester in collaboration with CSULB faculty, scholars renowned in their respective fields.

The exhibition is made possible in part due to contributions from the Instructionally Related Activities Fund, the Constance W. Glenn Fund for Exhibition and Education Programs, the Charles and Elizabeth Brooks Endowment for Exhibition and Education Programs and the Bess Hodges Foundation.

Educational programming for “Barbara Klemm: Light and Dark” is organized in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut Los Angeles and the CSULB departments of English, film and electronic arts, geography and German studies, and will include lectures and a film series. All events are free and open to the public. For more information and a full list of upcoming events, visit the University Art Museum website.

The catalogue, Barbara Klemm: Light and Dark, Photographs from Germany, with Flügge’s insightful interview with Klemm, will be available for purchase in the museum bookstore.

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