Julio Villa Chavez embodies the spirit of Latin@ culture at CSUSM

Student Spotlight

Andrea Martinez, Assistant Copy Editor


As an undocumented, first generation college student, Julio Villa Chavez’s accomplishments at CSUSM prove that the odds can be in favor of any student regardless of their background.

Chavez, a junior who is double majoring in Sociology and Spanish, first became involved on campus with the Peer Mentoring Program through Student Life and Leadership (SLL) as a mentee during his freshman year on campus. He is also the president of Standing Together as oNe Dream (STAND), works at the Latin@ Center and was one of only two students among faculty and staff to be appointed to the Diversity Council by President Haynes last spring.

His cultural involvement on campus has led him to reflect on the influence his parents have on his life. He said that he hopes to show them that the sacrifices they made by moving from Mexico to California for his “education and well being” are paying off.

“My parents have a lot of influence on everything that I do. It hit me when the center opened,” said Chavez. “The Latin@ Center is a great accomplishment for the school” and is meant to be a place where “Latin@ students can feel safe,” says Chavez.

The center is also a resource for undocumented students to learn about their rights for themselves and their families.

In addition to that, the center is also for all students to learn about Latin@ culture, traditions and values, regardless of one’s background.

Chavez acknowledges that the low rate of Latin@ college graduates can dishearten Latin@s on campus, but he said that the center can strengthen relationships between students through programs they’re working on creating.

“Latin@ students are more likely not to graduate from the university, but our program seeks to bring those numbers up through meaningful conversations, programming,friendships and connections,” said Chavez.

He said to bring light to the matter of undocumented people at CSUSM.

“I think that’s still taboo on this campus. As president of STAND, my goal for the program and our organization is to really [communicate] the hardships that students go through in and out of the classroom.”

Even though the Latino population is underrepresented in academia, Chavez strives to be an active leader in the Latino community.

“I feel like my drive is to really explain and break the stereotypes about my culture, teach who we are, what we represent and the meaning behind our culture and traditions.”