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Sep 19, 2022 4:33:47 PM

Point Foundation - The National LGBTQ Scholarship Fund

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Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month

Sep 19, 2022 4:33:47 PM
Point Foundation - The National LGBTQ Scholarship Fund

In the coming month, Point Foundation is excited to celebrate Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month. We are eager to highlight the voices and history of our Hispanic and Latinx students who, like our society, are always at intersections of their identities. 

Hispanic and Latinx identities have always been a part of the LGBTQ community. As our community becomes better at acknowledging the importance of diverse voices and realities of history, celebrating intersectionality is more important than ever.

Hispanic and Latinx students make up 24% of our current student body at Point Foundation and 20% of students in higher education in the US. Yet, Hispanic and Latinx students have debt higher than their white peers, averaging about $17,000, and taking out loans that they are more likely to default on than white students (35% vs 20%), according to NBC News. This is why Point continues to seek out and support Latinx and Hispanic students through all of our scholarship programs including our BIPOC Scholarship Program

“Community is survival; and as a gay, Latino Mormon raised in Texan, I know first-hand that my life wouldn’t be what it is without the community I found,” said Point Executive Director and CEO Jorge Valencia. “Growing up, I was worried about what people would think of me if they found out that I was gay. I was nervous that my Latino and religious communities would ostracize me.” 

“Keeping myself hidden away and living with fear kept me from even daring to dream what my future could look like,” Jorge said. “It wasn’t until I started to find people like me, started exploring and opening up about who I am, that I really got to focus on the life I wanted and celebrate all aspects of myself. “

What is Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month?

September 15 to October 15 is National Hispanic American Heritage Month. The start of this celebration aligns with the independence days of many Hispanic and Latinx nations; Oct. 15 is the independence days of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Chile and Mexico celebrate their independence Sept. 16.

This distinction originated as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson, which was later expanded in 1988 by the legislature and President Ronald Reagan. The original declaration recognized Hispanic people in the United States as being essential in the growth of the American economy and being a part of American heritage.

Funding for Undocumented Students

Point provides funding and support for undocumented LGBTQ students in higher education. Without citizenship status, undocumented students are sometimes unable to file their FAFSA without putting their families at risk, making it impossible to get federal student loans.

Josue Velasquez (they/them) is an undocumented student from Guatemala. In 2016 they became the first college graduate in their family and received dual bachelors degrees in anthropology and Chicanx/Latinx studies from the University of California, Irvine. As a Point BIPOC Scholar, Josue is pursuing a Master's Degree in Social Work from Boston College. Like many LGBTQ students, Josue’s parents didn’t provide support for their education, and their status as undocumented made it even harder to gain access to higher education.

“I believe that my academic journey has been affected tremendously by both my identity as a gay person and being undocumented,” Josue said. “The lack of resources and lack of support from my family made it difficult to achieve my goals early on in my education. I have had to create my own pathway and opportunities to advance my education.”

As they work towards their goal of becoming a clinical social worker, Josue embraces their identities as Latine and gay. What’s more, Josue is fighting for people like them, helping LGBTQ and Latinx communities pursue their own dreams.

“I think that over time, I have become extremely proud of my identities,” they said. “I have lost fear of saying yes, I am gay and yes, I am undocumented. I am here, and I deserve to be here.”

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