Here at Iowa State by Rene

03 Mar 2020 2:06 PM

Guest Blogger Guest Blogger

As I got here to Iowa State, I didn’t realize how much of an impact this new environment would have on me and my identity. I come from Des Moines, Iowa, which definitely has a diverse population when in comparison to Ames Iowa. I grew up playing soccer most of my childhood and with the sport, I was able to meet many different people from different demographic groups. With that I found myself making friends with a lot of my peers, we came from different parts of world, but our love of the sport united us.

I grew up always seeing myself as a Latino and, frankly, that was it. I wouldn’t make the effort to really learn more about my culture and my family’s traditions. I was slowly losing my ability to speak Spanish as I would only use it at home when needed. This was just how it was as I was slowly assimilating to the “American” way of life. It wasn’t that I didn’t care for my culture it was just that I didn’t find the love for it until I reached Iowa State.

Arriving at Iowa State I saw just how different things were. I was sometimes the only Latino in the room and, honestly, that would scare me. I would look around and I was lost in a sea of people who didn’t look like me. I found myself isolated sometimes, anxious when it came to interacting with my peers. It wasn’t until I started reaching out to find my people on campus that I grew more comfortable.

I started going to spaces on campus where I felt welcomed, I would find myself hanging out at the TRIO SSSP and the MSA offices all the time. These were spaces where I felt that I belonged and felt at ease here. I began getting involved with several Latinx organizations on campus as well. I attended the Latinx Leadership Retreat hosted by Latinx Student Initiatives and joined the planning committee as well. I also eventually joined and became a brother of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity Incorporated. These were student organizations that were meant to uplift, educate, and simply provide a support system that is essential when navigating higher education. I was again surrounding myself with Latinos and grew to really enjoy my culture. By surrounding myself with Latinos I grew more comfortable in my skin and was embracing it after so many years of setting my culture aside. I really grew to truly become proud of my culture as I immersed myself into it.

By surrounding myself with my people I really came to understand that our struggles are generally similar and I no longer felt alone. I felt empowered and realized that I am blessed to be here at Iowa State. As a minority, I felt the need to go into spaces on campus and voice my opinion, especially when no one who looked liked me seemed to be heard. I felt the need to get myself out there and show what I can offer to the table. Many times I have remained quiet because I felt invalidated, by, isolated from, and unacknowledged by my white peers, but that’s not a way to live happily. I need to show what I can offer. I want to make difference here and for my community in order for students like me to succeed and enjoy their experience here at Iowa State.


In My Words     Latinx, College of Engineering, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences