State of the State Student to Join Governor’s Advisory Board

Vasquez '10 (left) with Prof. Apostolidis and State Rep. Gutierrez-Kenney in Olympia, WA.

Thanks to her exemplary research with the State of the State for Washington Latinos, Whitman student Estela Vasquez has been invited to serve as a member of the Education Advisory Board of Governor Gregoire’s Interagency Council on Health Disparities. There, Vasquez will be able to draw on the extensive research from both her own experience and the State of the State project to help bring to light the particular issues faced by Washington’s Latino residents in accessing health services and education.

 

Vasquez, a senior Sociology major from Portland, OR, spent a semester conducting interviews and focus groups with the staff and students of Walla Walla High School to study how the school environment affected the educational experience of Latino students. Specifically, Vasquez looked at the civility of the school environment, finding that “racial identification was a strong influence on the way students experienced and interpreted their educational environment. Furthermore, the students’ comments suggested that the models for building civility often lack critical elements such as mental health services, community building, and the recognition that race matters.”

Based on her research, Vasquez recommended that school civility programs should include the key elements of “building a community that includes everyone, building collaborative relationships, celebrating and embracing all cultures, and making people aware of racial stereotypes and status issues.” Creating a safe and civil school environment is critical to the academic success of all students.

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