Refusing to be Another Latinx Statistic


Luz Miranda

The Family Institute where Luz spends most of her time.

Luz Miranda, Contributing Writer

Picture this: A Mexicanita walking down Northwestern University’s Evanston campus. Being excited about orientation and meeting her classmates. Upon arriving and opening the door to the classroom she’ll have more than half of her classes in; she sees a room full of predominantly white students. It was a culture shock I was not expecting, but that I should’ve been prepared for. 

I never get tired of writing about my Latinidad or about where I come from. However, it is exhausting having to talk about minority struggles in a classroom that’s made up of predominantly Caucasians students. As a Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) alumni, I haven’t felt like home at Northwestern University (NU), and I probably never will. My experience thus far pursuing a master’s degree in Counseling at NU hasn’t been easy. At NEIU, I was drowning in cultural celebrations and in diversity, whereas a predominantly white institution lacks it. I am happy to say I am a Harris Scholarship recipient in my program and that has been the greatest motivation to keep going. Scholarships that make a scholar commit to working with underrepresented populations are the easiest to apply for because I tend to do that regardless. 

I experienced imposter syndrome in my first quarter of graduate school. Imposter syndrome is when you doubt all of your accomplishments and feel like you’re a fraud. However, it was a bit different for me. I would hear my white classmates saying they were feeling imposter syndrome but couldn’t help to think they will never feel the level of imposter syndrome I was feeling. I was refreshed to know another NEIU alumni and McNair colleague was also in the same program. We would go back and forth about the levels of acculturation we had and how we didn’t feel like we at all belonged to the culture and environment in our classroom. Teaming up with another person of color felt great and it made it easier to get through that first quarter. 

Now, I want to focus on myself and remind myself of what I went through and how hard I worked to get there. There were times I wanted to go back to NEIU, my second home. I even reached out to several faculty members to help me either validate what I was feeling and push me to keep going or tell me that it was okay to come back and not take one for the team. My decision to stay has brought me even larger opportunities. I became a research assistant in my second quarter and was an awardee of the National Board for Certified Counselors Minority Fellowship.

I refused to be another statistic saying that a person of color couldn’t make it in a prestigious and rigorous program—And I still refuse. If anything, graduate school has taught me the importance of self-love and pride in being Mexican. I will be that token of diversity and that token of representing the Latinx community because that is the sacrifice I have to make to pave the way and influence others to do the same. That is how you start to close the gap and legitimize the presence of minority scholars in higher education. We need to take our space and not apologize for it. We worked twice as hard, so we deserve twice as much.