Congratulations to Latinitas 3rd Longest Employee on her Doctorate!
Starting Latinitas was a labor of love of women who loved reading, cinema, magazines and books but never saw real or positive reflections of Latinas in those spaces. Though the story of its founding mostly highlights my co-founder’s and my journey from idea in a class to a multi-city non-profit that still publishes the only magazine of its kind, Latinitas, its magazine and channels would never have been without the intellect, compassion and mentorship of one recently confirmed doctoral graduate: Jasmine Villa.
Dr. Jasmine Villa started as a volunteer for Latinitas. She led clubs in Latinitas El Paso programs and mentored dozens of young Latinas on the basics of media production, journalism and language arts. She was achieving a masters in rhetoric and writing studies at the University of Texas at El Paso and her eye for grammar and good writing was an ideal match to manage latinitasmagazine.org, where she solicited, edited and refreshed content monthly with young, new voices ages 15–30. Even more challenging she mentored a group of teen reporters from all over the country for the true stories of Latina youth in the U.S. Some of those students were in nearby El Paso, TX, where Latinitas launched in 2008 and other others in its base city Austin, TX, but other youth reporters chimed in from San Juan, Puerto Rico, the Pacific Northwest and Washington Heights in New York City. She was eventually hired as Latinitas editor, but she continued to generously give so much in-kind time and value.
I don’t know if you ever edited and published a magazine in your free time achieving a masters degree and then doctorate, but it’s not easy — particularly rounding up stories from youth contributors, making sure they are edited well and then getting them back in a timely fashion. Herding cats comes to mind.
“Latinitas was a great step into gaining knowledge outside of High School. It not only taught me commitment, but also how to take criticism effectively, how to be punctual, and how to play as a team. The Latinitas program is a great experience for girls that want to possibly pursue a career in journalism. Such a fun time!” — Youth Editorial Advisory Board member
I am so very grateful for Jasmine Villa. When you start a non-profit there’s no “seed funding” and so you are especially indebted to those who were there to build it — those who were happy to lend intelligence, time and their heart. Dr. Villa gets it. (I’m never not calling her “Dr.” again! because although the number of Latinos with a doctorate grew 67 percent between 2002 and 2013, less than 1 percent of Latino adults have earned advanced degrees, compared to 4 percent of Asian, 2 percent of white and 1 percent of African-American adults.)
Dr. Jasmine Villa understands the purpose of Latinitas magazine was beyond publishing girls’ articles — it was a social justice movement of getting narratives out there that spoke Latina girls’ and teens’ truth. Though (Dr.) Jasmine will be leaving El Paso, TX for her first professorship teaching rhetoric at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania — she’ll always be a journalist — inquisitive, straightforward and interested in what’s groundbreaking. She has been a true comadre and role model to all the girls in our after school programs and others she directly influenced as an editor. I am especially grateful to Dr. Jasmine Villa for her leadership, commitment to my dream that Latinitas magazine would read integrity in every issue and for her friendship and courage. This was not an easy road for her — she faced loss, personal tests of strength and a larger than life workload. I’m very excited to see how many more young lives she impacts and encourages in her new role as Professor Villa!