LA Mission College opens Chicano studies department

Latino students at Los Angeles Mission College in Sylmar have an academic department to call their own. The campus held an inaugural celebration earlier today.

Aztec dancers with their colorful costumes and traditional instruments converted the campus quad into center stage.

The cultural event is part of a weeklong celebration marking the Department of Chicano/Chicana Studies coming into its own. Mission College used to classify coursework and the Chicano Studies major under foreign languages and social sciences.

“Now we have more freedom to implement the difference classes that we want,” said the new department’s Vice Chair Jose Maldonado

Maldonado hopes to raise the curriculum’s profile and bring in more students. One of his alumni, Melissa Sanvicente, who majored in Chicano Studies, became an Aztec dancer and graduated from UCLA in June with a degree in global music and dance.

"I’m also a West African Dancer, so I really got into that. But I feel also because I have a base of my own that I was able to relate,” Sanvicente said.

Maldonado says he aims to prove the academic and social values of Chicano Studies. All classes are transferrable to state universities and on this campus where 75 percent of its 10,000 students are Latino, Chicano Studies is now the third largest department, behind math and English.

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