M.E.Ch.A guides path to SDSU for underrepresented high school students

by Shauny Silas, Staff Writer

For the Chicano student organization Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlan de SDSU’s 50th anniversary, the group plans to continue its legacy of guiding high school students to a future in higher education.

On Nov. 10, M.E.Ch.A de SDSU will hold its 48th annual high school conference in Montezuma Hall.

The conference brings together high school students to focus on spreading cultural awareness, improving political consciousness and providing access to necessary resources for underrepresented high school students that allows them to pursue a higher education, according to M.E.Ch.A de SDSU’s website.

The theme of this year’s high school conference is a “Liberation of Students: A New Self-Determined Consciousness.”

Senior and M.E.Ch.A. chair Omar Alejandro said he hopes establishing strong connections with high school students will help them start thinking about their futures early and allow them to start developing cultural awareness and a political consciousness before they start college.

“Nobody is learning by themselves,” Alejandro said. “Knowledge is built up from other people. M.E.Ch.A’s focus changes a little bit every year depending on what’s going on in the community around us and what is being emphasized during that time. But, we are always focusing on culture, higher education and political consciousness.”

Social work senior and M.E.Ch.A member Marlene Martinez said one of the best experiences she has had in the organization has been during the high school conference.

“It’s lots of months of work that gets put in, but once everything comes to life, it’s amazing,” Martinez said. “A lot of students come from low-income communities and high schools that don’t provide them with enough resources to get a higher education.”

Once students begin their education at SDSU, M.E.Ch.A  also offers a mentorship program and the opportunity to become a part of a circulo within the organization.

Circulos meet outside of weekly meetings to discuss topics surrounding the community and political issues at the time.

Circulos are formed by members within the club and are divided between men, women and non-binary individuals.

“Circulos are a very good way to talk about what is going on in a community,” Alejandro said. “We discuss things you typically wouldn’t talk to someone about and give people the opportunity to connect with like-minded people.”

One of the reasons Martinez said she joined the organization was because it stood by social justice issues and she wanted to find her own community on campus.

“I was also in M.E.Ch.A in high school, so I thought it would be a good idea to join in a college environment,” Martinez said. “M.E.Ch.A in college is different because in high school, we only talked about what we could do. Now, we actually get to apply our skills and get out to advocate for underrepresented groups.”

Martinez said one thing she wants everyone to know is that M.E.Ch.A is open to people from all different cultural backgrounds, not just one.

“Everyone feels like they’re a part of one big family in M.E.Ch.A,” Alejandro said.