Promoting local heritage and global cooperation
Cindy Perez may have grown up in a low-income home in Hacienda Heights, an area with a concentration of Spanish-speaking residents east of Los Angeles, California, but she made the most of the opportunities available to her. Competing in track and water polo, she was named a scholar athlete. Interested in government and world affairs since childhood, she excelled in high school and earned a scholarship from MEChA—Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán. Cindy became secretary to the organization, which considers much of North America to be a region named Aztlán, based on ancient civilizations. It aims to inform young Hispanics about the culture and history of indigenous peoples and instill pride in the Chicano identity as well as work toward a society free of exploitation, prejudice, sexism, and homophobia. Members value education but if it means a loss of cultural identity, they consider MEChA a responsibility that is of greater importance than personal achievement.
Cindy earned two other scholarships, one from the California Scholarship Federation through her high school and one from the city of La Puente, and soon made the dean’s honor roll at San Diego State University, where she is majoring in international security and conflict resolution (ISCOR) with an emphasis in conflict, cooperation, and resolution. She also joined the ISCOR Student Society, a network and support system for those interested in peaceful conflict resolution activities. Broadening her collegiate interests, Cindy became a member of the Cultural Arts and Special Events board through Associated Students, helping to plan and coordinate many of the concerts, lectures, and student activities on campus.
To supplement her scholarships, she worked as a life guard in the summer, and then during the school year she has worked for the Office of Educational Opportunity Programs and Ethnic Affairs as an assistant recruiting agent. In her second year on the job, she became “the lead RA,” she says. Her advisors compliment her passion to help others, her willingness to challenge herself, her sense of focus, and long-range planning. Her EOP counselor adds that “Cindy balances her studies, employment, and campus activities well, developing her sense of professionalism in the process.”
Entering her junior year at SDSU, Cindy hopes to get the chance to travel abroad and learn from other cultures and governments. Her diplomatic instincts lead her to want to understand foreign misconceptions about America and how we could help to change them. “Considering how world events affect our communities, it is important to know why they occurred, how the people of those nations feel, and what can be done in order to prevent further conflicts.”