Aceves says she never thought about her Hispanic identity or the fact that there are relatively few Hispanics in science until recently, when she perused the names and faces of others in her program. “There was no one that looked like me,” she remembers. Indeed, according to the National Science Foundation, Hispanics account for only 10 percent of all STEM-related degrees. Census data from 2011 show Hispanics make up only 11 percent of the STEM workforce. The number of Latinas within these groups is even smaller. It’s something Aceves is hoping to change.
Escobedo was in middle school when his family settled in the mostly agricultural town of Atwater, located 8 miles north of Merced up Highway 99, six years ago. His father landed a job that offered better benefits and a better salary, he explains, allowing his mom to remain at home and focus on helping Escobedo and his younger sister with their studies. The effort paid off. When it came time to apply for college, Escobedo received acceptance letters from three UC schools – Davis, Irvine and Merced. He chose the latter, he says, for a variety of reasons, including the school’s smaller size and its proximity to a community he was just then beginning to discover.
The long-term goal of the organizing, added Abril, is less about getting people to perform a one-time act of voting than it is about igniting a lifelong commitment to civic engagement. Gallardo agreed: “Beyond just getting folks to go out and vote on November 4th we want to really make it part of our culture here in Merced.”
On Saturday, August 9th 2014, Middle State Feminists and We’Ced Youth Media teamed up to put on RESPECTICON, an all-day, sex Ed, battle of the bands event.
Joining groups like We’Ced has really helped me bring my attention to all the things that do happen in Merced. In the long run, I want to inform more friends and peers about local events so more and more people can begin to grasp the idea that there are so many things that do go on in Merced.