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Indiana University Bloomington
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Undergraduate Minor

Ph.D. Minor

Ph.D Dissertation Fellowship

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César E. Chávez Undergraduate Research Symposium



Juana Watson

M.A. Indiana University '05, Latin American and Caribbean Studies
with a Latino Studies concentration

Juana Watson







"I was born in a small village nestled high in the middle of the Sierra Madre Mountains of the state of Hidalgo in central Mexico. Life there has not changed much since my birth. Women are still dying giving birth and children die before they get to be 5 years old because there is no infrastructure. The people in the village drink water from ther river, and there are no clinics or doctors in town. Life is hard and many young men and women are being forced to leave the village to look for a better life.

I arrived in Indiana in 1978 with only the equivalent of a Junior high education. I didn't speak English well. I became a student by accident out of need to help my children with their homework.

I became very involved in helping the new Latino immigrants to adapt to their new life in Indiana. I helped start Latino resource centers around the state. At the same time I was continuing with my education by learning English, getting my high school diploma, and getting a bachelor's degree. I designed a Powerpoint presentation called "Face of the Latino Immigrant" to educate non-Latinos about Latino issues. I always felt bothered by an identity issue because we mestizo people tend to feel ambivalence toward ourselves. Some days we want to be Spanish another time we want to be native (Aztec). The best thing that happened to me was to take Latino Studies classes with Professors Chapa and Nieto-Phillips. In May, 2005, I graduated with a Masters in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and a concentration in Latino Studies. I was one of the first two students to graduate with a Latino Studies concentration.

Taking Latino Studies classes allowed me to understand things as never before. I ended up feeling that I could make a greater contribution to the Latino community now more than ever. Latino Studies classes helped me combine my street-wise experience with my book-wise knowledge. Now I feel more confident that I can educate the state of Indiana not only from experience about Latino issues but also from knowledge.

Currently, through my work as a Senior Advisor for Latino Affairs for Governor Daniels, I am able to visit many communities and support efforts to better the lives of Latinos in the state of Indiana."

To read more about Juana's work, click here

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