Get Ready. Get Enrolled. Persist: Maricela

Con Mi MADRE interviewed Maricela, a CMM graduate who is now a participant in the CMM G.R.A.D program.  As she gets ready for her freshman year, she is looking forward to classes and her new home away from home.

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Classification: Freshman

University: Texas State University

Major:  Criminal Justice

Why did you join Con Mi MADRE?

I joined Con Mi MADRE my sophomore year of high school because my sister was in it. I went to one of their ceremonies with my sister and kept coming back. CMM helps us help ourselves and it has created a strong bond between my sister, mom and family, while helping us advance in our education.

Why are you excited about transitioning into the G.R.A.D program?

I am excited to be in the G.R.A.D. Program because Con Mi Madre helped me become successful in the two years I was in the program. I also knew I would need people to talk to because I was the first person in my family to attend college. I will be able to continue learning through Con Mi MADRE and it’s extremely helpful to hear everyone else’s story.

What is the hardest part of applying to college?

One of the hardest parts of applying to college was turning things in on time. Getting my SAT scores in on time was so difficult for me, which is why I would tell other girls to do everything their junior year. They should make sure to take their SAT or ACT tests and turn them into their school of choice as soon as possible. Because your senior year of high school you’ll just be focusing on filling out scholarship applications, not taking tests.

Do you have any words of advice for other girls?

Make sure you fill out the FASFA! My parents filled out mine, so I had to keep on pestering them and asking them until they finished it. My dad was late, so make sure you don’t turn in your FASFA late.

Why do you love Con Mi MADRE?

Con Mi MADRE had its 21st annual Leadership Summit, July 12-3, 2013. Mother and daughter teams from more than 15 schools came to the University of Texas at Austin to get a feel for the college life. This year there were four separate tracks: a middle school track, high school track, G.R.A.D track, and mother track. We asked girls during the summit what they love about being in Con Mi MADRE.

participant “Con Mi MADRE has taught me that I cannot succeed alone, and that my parents are a big part of my life.”

- Melody

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“Being in Con Mi MADRE has brought me out of my shell because it lets me do a lot of fun activities with a lot of other girls.”

- Tara

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“Con Mi MADRE helps Latinas with their education and it keeps us active, while learning new things.”

- Yadira

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“This program helps me spend more time with my mom because we go to conferences and volunteer in the community together.”

- Stephanie

I Live Here, I Give Here…Amplify AUSTIN!

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Can you imagine how $1 million could change the Austin community?

Well, pretty soon you may see this turn into a reality!

Amplify Austin is Austin’s first community-wide giving festival and they are challenging our local community to raise $1 million in 24 hours. That’s right $1 million in ONE DAY.

The results of this campaign can do wonders for ATX as well as our local non-profits.

Here’s why:

Starting on March 4th at 7PM, the website AmplifyATX.org will be turned into a giving site where you can search for a non-profit that you love by name (or by any nonprofit whose cause you support). At that time you can donate any amount you want to the non-profit. Remember, every donation—no matter what size—counts.

Then, not only will donations be matched, but every hour Amplify Austin will give out $1,000 to the nonprofits that generate the most dollars or donors!

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This could really help the missions of nonprofits like Con Mi MADRE, and we are proud to say we are a part of the Amplify Austin campaign. Look for us on March 4th until the end of the campaign on March 5th at 7PM.

We’re hoping to make an impact to help increase the representation of Latina girls in higher education as well as building a stronger bi-lingual workforce in the Austin community.

Help us continue our tradition of success in our beloved ATX!

Thanksgiving with Latino Flair

Being a Latino in the US makes for a unique experience growing up. It means shifting between an English-speaking world and a Spanish-speaking one almost seamlessly. It means being a part of two cultures, each with its own set of traditions, cuisine, history and values. A Latino life, quite simply, is a fusion in more ways than one.

Thanksgiving is one holiday coming up where we see this fusion of cultures, where a little Latino flair is sometimes added to what is traditionally known as an American holiday. In the US, it’s not strange to see Hispanic families place pumpkin flan, pumpkin empanadas, or calabaza de tacha on the Thanksgiving table to celebrate this special holiday of family and hope. In fact, society is starting to take notice. Just take a look at this infographic, courtesy of Hispanically Speaking News, on how Thanksgiving is celebrated in Hispanic households.

Does it ring true for your household? Is there a Latin twist to your Thanksgiving table? If you would like to add a little Latin cuisine to your Dia del Pavo, click on the link below to view a video for a simple pumpkin flan recipe that’s delicious and healthy.

Pumpkin Flan Recipe

Con Mi MADRE Recives UT Community Partnership Award 2012

The lovely ladies of Con Mi Madre standing with President Bill Powers and Gregory Vincent.

This month on October 3, 2012, Con Mi MADRE was given the great honor of receiving the Community Partnership Award given by The University of Texas at Austin’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement. This award recognizes exceptional leadership and commitment to university-community partnerships that strive for equality on the educational playing field for under-served populations.

 

Sandy Alcala receiving the UT Community Partnership Award with a huge smile!

The event took place at the Mexican American Cultural Center and Sandy Segura Alcala, our current Executive Director, graciously accepted the award on Con Mi MADRE’s behalf from UT President Bill Powers and Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement Gregory Vincent. When asked about the award and what it means to her organization, she responded with the following:” Con Mi MADRE has shared a wonderful partnership with the School of Social Work and we are truly honored to be recognized for our 20 years of commitment and service in the Austin community.”

Additionally, we would like to congratulate The Tejano Monument, In. – an organization that honors early Spanish and Mexican pioneers and their contributions to Texas – for receiving a Community Partnership Award as well. 

Other guests in attendance included: Coah Jody Conradt,who received a special recognition for her work with the Neighborhood Longhorns Program (NLP); David M. Garza and John S. Hogg, who both won the Community Leadership Circle Award; and S.A. and Viola Garza, who were given the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Legacy Award.

It was a special night and Con Mi MADRE was honored to be in the presence of such amazing organizations and people who share the same love for their community. We look forward to serving the Austin area for many more years to come and increasing the representation of Hispanic girls in higher education.  Hook’em

Austin Bucket List by Lauren

 

By Lauren Mendoza, Con Mi MADRE alumni

During fall, our wonderful city celebrates our Latino community from Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15- Oct. 15) to Día de los Muertos. Experiencing what Austin has to offer is a fun way to stay active, keep up with our ever-expanding city, and is a great opportunity to engage in our community. There’s a lot going on in the upcoming weeks and the weather is finally agreeable, so be sure to take advantage of some of the fun cultural festivities. Here’s a quick guide to help you get started celebrating our Hispanic community right here in Austin during this beautiful time of year.

ACTIVO

If you need a boost of energy to get you motivated to go out to the celebrations, get moving! Literally. No matter what your fitness level is, yoga and zumba are wonderful ways to get active and feel good. Whether you want to reduce stress, build muscle strength, improve your flexibility, or just stretch your tired muscles after a long day, millions of people have found yoga to benefit their mind, body, and spirit. This month the Mexican American Cultural Center is offering Yoga en Español on Wednesdays from Sept. 12 – Oct. 10, 6-7pm, for just $6.

If you’re looking for a workout that feels more like fun than work, try a zumba class. The Latin beats will get you moving to the salsa, flamenco, and hip-hop dance moves, and it’s great for people with all levels of dance experience. Take your mom, she’ll love it! It burns fat and stress, and is a great way to get back into exercising (even if it’s been a while). Zumba classes at the MACC are on Tuesdays and Thursdays from Sept. 11- Oct. 16. As with any exercise it is always wise to consult a physician beforehand.

Mexican American Cultural Center, 600 River Street. $6 per class.

 

ARTE

In case you missed the Dieciseis festivities this month, you can still see Jose Antonio Garciaguerra’s artwork celebrating the epoch of Mexico’s Independence, “La Epoca de la Independencia de Mexico.” Concurrently on display at the Mexican American Cultural Center in the Community Gallery is “Plastic Eye,” photographs by Faustinus Deraet presenting images of Mexico captured by a plastic toy camera. Bring a friend and enjoy the live music at 3 p.m. It’s more like a fiesta than a museum. And in case you’re feeling creative, hang around for one of their classes on Glitter nichos, sugar skull making, or altar making.

Mexican American Cultural Center, 600 River Street.

M-Th 10am – 6pm, F 10am – 5:30 pm, Sat 10am – 4 pm. Free admission.

 

Mexic-arte Museum’s current exhibition, Elements of Day of the Dead, examines contemporary interpretations of Día de los Muertos iconography and customs. Check it out on September 23, when they’ll also showcase live screen-printing from local latino artists and have other fun hands-on activities for the whole family. It’s a great opportunity to get creative and learn about an exciting new trade.

Mexic-arte Museum, 419 Congress Avenue 12 – 5 PM, Activities 12 – 3, Free admission Sundays.

 

CELEBRACIONES

On Saturday, October 13, Highland Mall is inviting all students (K-12) to perform talent acts celebrating Hispanic Heritage month. Perform in a group or solo act that honors Hispanic culture and win a cash prize up to $100. After the talent show there will be more celebrating with live music by Mauricio Callejas Band and La Frenetika. You can register online by Sept. 28 at http://www.highlandmall.com/event/hispanic-heritage-month-talent-show/ or pick up an entry form at the mall office Monday-Friday 8:30am-5pm.

Good Luck!

Highland Mall, 6001 Airport Boulevard.

 

COMIDA

Of all the 24 hour food stops in Austin, La Mexicana is one of my favorites. This family owned panaderia and taquería has an all day breakfast and lunch menu, cakes, pralines, homemade flour tortillas and leading up to Día de los Muertos, much more. They have everything you need to celebrate, including sugar skulls and bread of the dead. Since they’re 24 hrs, it’s perfect for fueling up for late night studying or the morning before a big test. And since it’s fall, be sure to take advantage of the delicious pumpkin empanadas. Mmm.

La Mexicana, 1924 South First St. Open 24 hours everyday.

COMPRA

Tesoros Trading Co. has a beautiful assortment of traditional and contemporary folk arts and crafts from over 20 different countries including Mexico, Chile, Columbia, and Spain. This month they have beautiful and affordable skull and bone jewelry to help you celebrate Día de los Muertos con estilo. Then it’s just a short walk down the block to Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds to pick out your Halloween costume. They really do have just about anything you could think of. Why not try Superwoman?

Tesoros Trading Co., 1500 South Congress Avenue, 11am-6pm.

 

 

 

Alumni Story: A Change in Plans

By: Tracey Reyna

I have never been so disappointed in myself as the day I went to school to drop out of my college courses. Up until that day, I was sure that I would graduate as I did from high school, back in 2008. I aspired to complete an Associate’s degree and follow through into a university right after. I was so focused and determined that I never thought I would have to face a host of challenges in the coming years.

After graduating from high school with honors, I felt like I was on top of the world. All of my hard work had paid off and I had something to show for it. I had a solid plan of what I was going to do. I would go to ACC (Austin Community College) to earn an Associate’s degree and from there, get accepted to a first-tier university where I’d graduate with a Bachelor’s by 2012.

But life has a way of changing one’s plans…

During my last two years of high school, there were some problems that had come up within my family. Problems that weren’t mine, but involved people I loved, and it made me feel like I needed to be financially responsible for myself. I witnessed my parents facing financial hardship and I felt obligated to help as soon as possible. Therefore, at the first opportunity I had to make my own decisions, I decided to get two jobs while still being a full-time college student. I didn’t want to be a burden to my parents and I wanted to begin paying for some of my own things, like my cell phone bill and gas. To me, that didn’t seem like much, and my parents were opposed, but I wanted to help in any way possible.

I soon realized that the responsibilities I chose to burden myself with were not going to be as easy as I thought.

During my third semester at ACC, it had all caught up to me. Assisting my family, managing two jobs, going to school full-time and taking on an engagement with my long time boyfriend all played a part in me becoming stressed and exhausted everyday. I lost focus, started falling behind in school and ended up having to drop all of my classes.

Dropping out of school was something I was not proud of. I was disappointed in myself because I didn’t follow through with what I said I was going to and I couldn’t help but feel ashamed. This wasn’t what I wanted for myself, but at the time, what my family was going through and what I could do to help, seemed as a good enough reason to justify what I had done. So I kept working hard to achieve my new goal of becoming financially independent.

After a small break from school, I realized I was comfortable with where I was at in life. I was making good money from working two jobs, so I didn’t see a reason to go back to school. However, my persistent mother always questioned my intentions of not going back and didn’t let me forget how important school was for my future. So after a lot of long conversations with her, she won me over and convinced me to take some classes again. At that time, the family problems were still haunting us, so even though I wanted to go back to school, I wanted something I could finish fast to help me get a better job than what I had. That’s why I looked into trade schools and wound up attending Everest Institute. It wasn’t my Associates degree that I was working towards, but I thought surely something was better than nothing. So to a degree, I was happy. After I enrolled to Everest and studied to be a Medical Administrative Assistant, I was able to quit both of my jobs. With the help of God, I graduated on a Saturday and got hired the following Tuesday at the OB/GYN office where I currently work full-time.

During the process of it all, my fiancé and I tied the knot and shortly after bought a house, something I am very proud of.

It is now 2012, and even though everything I have accomplished to this day has made me extremely happy and content, I have to be honest with myself. Nothing would satisfy me more than to finish what I initially started: my college education. That is why I am looking into going back to ACC this fall to pick up where I left off. I know it’s not going to be easy and it’s going to be a lot of work, but I also believe it is something that is going to pay off in the end. I feel I’m in a good place in life right now where I can give myself that opportunity of doing something even better for myself. So all in all, I’m very excited for what the future holds in store for me.

Tracey Reyna graduated high school in 2008 and was a Con Mi MADRE program participant for six years. Her favorite parts about the program were college visits and Con mi Padre events. She is continuing college courses this fall.

New Immigration Policy FAQs

We have had a lot of questions about the new immigration policy President Obama announced about stopping deportations of certain undocumented youth, often referred to as DREAMers.

To answer your questions, we are holding an information session on Monday, July 16th at Manchaca Public Library from 6 pm – 8 pm. Griselda Ponce, an immigration attorney, will discuss the policy and who is eligible to apply for it. Besides families involved with Con Mi MADRE, our Austin College Access Network partners Breakthrough, College Forward, and KIPP and their families are welcome to attend.

Until then, here are is some information regarding this policy:
What shift has occurred recently regarding immigration policy and undocumented students?

The policy shift means young immigrants can qualify for deferred action—a temporary legal status—and work authorization if they meet the following criteria:

  • They are not older than 30 and were younger than 16 when they arrived in the United States.
  • They lived in the United States at the time of the announcement, and had been here at least five years.
  • They are enrolled in school, have graduated from high school or have earned a GED, or have served in the military.
  • They have a relatively clean criminal history—meaning no felony or serious misdemeanor convictions.

Deferred action means no threat of deportation for two years. When that time is up, students will need to reapply. Students must present documentation—school records, medical records, financial records—to prove they are eligible. Qualifying for deferred action also means students age 15 and older can legally work in the U.S. if they apply for a work permit, pay the $380 fee, and are approved, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. Details of what the June 15 announcement means for undocumented students and their college and work prospects should become clearer as the date to apply for deferred status approaches. The Department of Homeland Security website estimates another 60 days before UCSIS will start taking applications for deferred status.

The following questions and answers have been provided by Griselda Ponce, the immigration attorney who will be discussing the policy at the information session. For further questions, please attend the information session.

If I am granted deferred action, will I be eligible for employment authorization?

You will be eligible for employment authorization, but you will have to apply for it separately. State driver’s license requirements for immigrants, and the documents accepted as proof of status, vary by state. It may take advocacy to ensure that your state recognizes persons with deferred action status as eligible for a license. Since deferred action status is listed in the federal Real ID Act as a status that makes you eligible for a license that’s recognized for certain federal purposes, there are strong arguments for states to grant driver’s licenses to people with deferred action status.

If I am denied deferred action, will I be placed in deportation proceedings?

If you are denied deferred action under this process, USCIS will refer your case to ICE only if you have a criminal conviction or if there is a finding of fraud in your request. It is against USCIS policy to refer cases to ICE where there is no evidence of fraud or criminal conviction. Before you apply, however, it is really important that you first consult with a DREAM advocate or a reputable attorney – especially if you have ever been convicted of any kind of crime.

If you are in deportation proceedings, you can visit the ICE website at www.ice.gov or call the ICE hotline at 1-888-351-4024 (9 a.m. – 5 p.m., English and Spanish). Everyone else can visit USCIS’s website (www.uscis.gov) or call the USCIS hotline at 1-800-375-5283 (8 a.m. – 8 p.m., English and Spanish). Additional information is available from the website of the ICE Office of the Public Advocate, www.ice.gov/about/offices/enforcement-removal-operations/publicadvocate/.