Photo by Mona Mirpour
All the classes that senior Camila Acosta took last year were for a major that didn’t yet exist. Acosta has taken a mix of Spanish, international studies, art history and education classes, but now there is a major that accommodates and fits all of those passions.
The global Latinx studies major was added to the Trinity catalog in the fall semester of 2019. The major focuses on studying Latinx history and culture from Latinx communities across the world. The courses offered are taught from various departments such as religion, history, sociology and economics. Though members of the executive committee of the Mexico, The Americas, and Spain (MAS) Program finalized the major, it is an independent major housed under the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures.
Acosta was the first student to declare the Latinx studies major. Acosta is also majoring in Spanish and international studies with a concentration in MAS and double minoring in art and art history.
“That’s what I really love about this major is that it’s not just [Latinx] history, culture and art.It’s everything,” Acosta said.
Acosta believes that this combination of knowledge about Latinx studies from different departments is valuable and important to learn.
“This major is a wonderful way to open the doors to Latin America, to understanding it and its people and everything that is going on today . . . it’s a different side of history and a history that is so easily forgotten and so often overlooked,” Acosta said.
Sociology and anthropology professor Alfred Montoya was involved in getting the major approved. He believes that Trinity was well suited for this major because San Antonio is a majority Latinx city and filled with lots of local opportunities in varying industries.
“There has been an increase in Latinx students at Trinity trying to understand the political and cultural configuration of Latinx communities globally,” Montoya said.
Rita Urquijo-Ruiz, global Latinx studies director and professor of Spanish, told Acosta about the major. Urquijo-Ruiz was instrumental in getting the major established. She was in the group of around 15 faculty that helped organize and establish the major.
“We wanted to make Trinity one of these liberal arts institutions that is leading the way into interdisciplinary majors such as the one that our city represents . . . we really feel that Trinity is the perfect place for this major and that it was about time to get it done,” Urquijo-Ruiz said.
The major’s name is also unique in the Latinx studies field as it is gender-neutral and inclusive to all Latinx communities.
Global Latinx studies majors are also encouraged to study abroad and to get involved locally in San Antonio by pursuing internships and doing service for the community. Through the MAS program, Acosta has studied abroad in Spain and has completed two internships.
“The two internships have really helped me not only better understand my classes but also better understand the concepts in my classes,” Acosta said. “It starts making you curious about your community and where you come from and how you can maybe implement some of these really great, successful strategies into your community.”
Acosta only had to take one additional class to finish her major because there was overlap with classes for her other majors. That additional class is a senior capstone required for all global Latinx studies majors, where students pair three classes that they have taken for the major and share what they have learned from these courses and what the major means to them.
“It’s important to know that this major means a lot. It means a lot to me and it means a lot to people. It means a lot to a lot of people to kind of feel a validation for our history, for our culture, for our people, for everything that they have been through and everything that they will go through,” Acosta said.
There are currently two declared students for this major. Junior Morgan Preston was the second student to declare this major.
“I like this major because I had to go out of my way to to find it,” Preston said.
Acosta hopes to use this major as she works towards becoming a bilingual teacher in San Antonio.
“If you can show [students] that you understand and that you care, it’s going to be so much easier for you to help them and so much easier for them to trust you to teach them. So I want to go into bilingual education so that I can have all the students who are like me, who sat in a class where they didn’t understand the language in a room filled with students who didn’t understand what they were saying and just bridge that gap,” Acosta said.
Students interested in learning more about the global Latinx studies major are invited to attend an information session on Tuesday, Oct. 15 from 3:30–5:00 p.m. in the Tehuacana Room of the Coates Student Center.