East Los Angeles College 1st California community college to offer Central American studies program

Starting in spring of 2023, ELAC will offer an Associate of Arts degree in Central American studies.

Anabel Munoz Image
Saturday, August 20, 2022
EMBED <>More Videos

Starting in spring of 2023, ELAC will offer an Associate of Arts degree in Central American studies.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- East Los Angeles College will become the first community college in California and the nation to offer a Central American studies program.

"I was beyond thrilled. This is a huge milestone for Central American representation," said Edwin Sandoval, an ELAC student.

Sandoval, who is Salvadoran, and his classmates celebrated and echoed a common experience.

"You are seen as a brown person and they're like, 'A brown person. Oh, you're Mexican,'" said Lana Leos, who has Salvadoran and Guatemalan roots.

"What this program will do is actually acknowledged our Central American cultures and found the bridge between the many Central American identities that are in our community with the Chicano culture in this community and on this ELAC campus," said Leos.

Starting in spring of 2023, ELAC will offer an Associate of Arts degree in Central American studies.

"Students will have an opportunity to learn about the Central American experience, literature and important elements of culture, including art and film," said East Los Angeles College president Alberto Roman.

Los Angeles Community College District officials dress ethnic studies, including those focusing on Central America -- which is made up of seven countries -- is a priority.

"We're starting at LACCD to test this proof-of-concept that we believe will inspire the rest of California and its community colleges and indeed the rest of the nation," said Los Angeles Community College District Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez.

"It is preparing the next generation of leaders and professionals with the tools to create the change in the communities that we so need," said Jocelyn Duarte, professor of Chicano and Chicana studies at East Los Angeles College.

Many are eager to learn, including Jesenia Yanez, who is Mexican and Guatemalan.

"It allows us to expand our view and what it means to be Latinx and allows us to step out of the label that has been constraining and restraining," said Yanez.

"That's all I ever wanted ... to be noticed like we exist here in East L.A.," said Sandoval.