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First Generation Student Creates A Space For The Unrepresented

Written by on September 7, 2021

NORMAL, Ill. – Illinois State University’s Preview took place this summer from June to July. The orientation was conducted through Zoom—but this year there were new features to include students who may not get to share their college journey with family because of language barriers.

First-generation student and senior, Daisy Rodriguez partnered with the Preview Office to create an interactive experience for not only the students but for their parents. Rodriguez worked on this project for over 2 years—starting before and continuing throughout the pandemic.

“We did lose a little bit of communication for I want to say maybe a semester or two and then Covid hit, unfortunately,” said Rodriguez. “After that, I decided to reach out the fall semester of 2020 which I was already in my junior by then.”

Rodriguez wanted to keep her connection with the Preview Office so she continued to reach out to see where the project was going because the orientation transitioned online.

“We were talking about what we can do to make Preview a more language inclusive environment. We talked about different resources that we can provide and some other ideas were that we could have like sending out mail translated in Spanish,” said Rodriguez.

Spanish was implemented into the program for the Preview of summer 2021. Rodriguez made videos along with other team members to help welcome students and their families.

Before Spanish was added to the orientation, Rodriguez reached out to other organizations on campus to join her. Rodriguez is the vice president of the Association of Latin American Students and asked some members to be a part of the process along with students from the Asian Pacific American Coalition.

Rodriguez and last year’s ALAS executive board.

Creating a space for diverse students starts when the university recruits them says Rodriguez.

“It’s fine to recruit students and to bring them in and they are from diverse backgrounds. That’s awesome. That’s great, but how do we support these students academically, emotionally?”

 

Starting college Rodriguez says that she was completely alone and one out of two students that came from her high school. Rodriguez expresses that making students feel welcome starts when they are at home when they receive information from the university.

“In order to truly become that diverse and into a supportive campus—you have to start where it first begins which is at recruitment then comes Preview.”

She says that she would like the next step to be—adding more languages alongside Spanish into Preview.

“It is very vital to show the support for not only Spanish speakers but all languages.”

The creation of this project started because Rodriguez says she had to experience big moments of her college journey without her parents. She says there was also talk amongst other students in her organization ALAS about inclusivity.

“I love that I was able to start with Spanish but my ultimate goal is to incorporate other languages,” said Rodriguez. “I am a senior and before I leave and graduate—I really want to reach out to the student population and let them know about the project and let them know that they can reach out to me and continue this project.”

Her final wish is for the project to live on and to make students feel welcomed to campus.