“Just Like Us” shows teenagers struggling with immigration


Ken Jacques

Left to right: Kennedy Garcia, Paloma Carillo, Laura Sandoval-Rivas, Maya Stokes practicing.

by Sydney Faulkner, Senior Staff Writer

San Diego State’s theatre program is closing out the month of September with it’s latest show, “Just Like Us,” a documentary-style program that brings light to the issues immigrants face in America.

The show — which debuts on Sept. 27 and will close on Oct. 6 — ” is based on Helen Thorpe’s best selling book, Just Like Us: The Story of Four Mexican Girls. The show is written by Karen Zacarías and directed by SDSU Associate Professor, Peter Cirino. 

“Just Like Us” follows the lives of four Latina teenage girls in Denver, Colorado, through their senior year of high school and into college. While two of the young women are not undocumented, the other two are. The show brings light to the challenges and issues of being undocumented while questioning the system of immigration laws we have in America today. 

Theatre performance junior Devin Robbins, who plays Ramiro and Julio alternatively, said “Just Like Us” is about the struggle to maintain identity in a world that doesn’t accept who you are. It’s about the hardships and hopes of four Latina girls finding their way to a better future, one that can be taken away from them at any moment due to their immigration status. 

“This is a story of unalienable rights against prejudice ruling and how the lives of people just like us are hurt and ended because of the laws surrounding immigration and documentation in the U.S.,” Robbins said.

As imagined, “Just Like Us” carries a load of importance and relevance in our society’s current political climate. The students involved in the show are very passionate about the story being told in “Just Like Us.” 

Lexi Vierra, theatre performance junior and that show’s assistant director, said “‘Just Like Us” is an important story to tell because it is a true story.

“It is grounded in the roots of reality and I think that makes it a very realistic combination of beautiful and heart wrenching,” she said. “The one thing I value in the show most is that I truly believe, no matter what your political leaning, is that it will give you something to think about. At least that’s what I’m trying to strive for in my directing.”

While the four girls play a large role in the show, the author of the original book is featured in the show as well. Mikayla Hinds, theatre performance sophomore, takes on the role of Helen Thorpe. 

“She is important because she is the narrator of the whole show,” said Hinds. “She is the one who captures the girls’ story. She is a compassionate, caring character who wants to open the worlds eyes to what is going on behind the scenes of politics with immigration and what actually happens to those affected by it, and how real it actually is.” 

Whether you’re educated on the current immigration laws and issues surrounding it or not, attending “Just Like Us” could only expand perspectives and shed light on a topic that is so relevant today. 

“Just Like Us” will run from Friday, Sept. 27 through Sunday, Oct. 6 in SDSU’s Experimental Theatre. General admission tickets are $20 and tickets for seniors, military and students are $17. For tickets, directions and parking information, visit ttf.sdsu.edu.

Sydney Faulkner is a senior studying journalism.


Photo Credit: Ken Jacques

Left to right: Kennedy Garcia, Paloma Carillo, Laura Sandoval-Rivas, Maya Stokes


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