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October 2015   

In high school, Itzayana Barrera felt disempowered because of her undocumented status. Her mother had always stressed the importance of education as a valuable tool that no one could take away, but Barrera received little academic support from the people who were supposed to help her.

“My counselor told me that I wasn’t able to further my educational career,” said Barrera. “And I was distraught because I believe that everyone can do whatever they put their mind to.” 

Barrera transferred to Silver Creek High School the next year, and her experience was wildly different. The principal at that school empathized with her and encouraged her to succeed. 

“That made me feel very empowered and emotional because as a student who doesn’t have a voice in the system, I felt as if I did matter,” Barrera said. “And from then on I decided to get into De Anza and pursue my career here.” 

Barrera was drawn to De Anza because of the diversity and high transfer rates. But when she got here, she felt lost. She needed a support system. Luckily, a friend introduced her to the Extended Opportunities Programs & Services (EOPS) program and to George Robles, the program supervisor. 

EOPS is a state-funded program designed to help low-income students be academically successful. EOPS students receive counseling, grants for book costs and overall support to achieve their academic goals. The program serves many undocumented students, and Barrera has thrived with its support. 

“I’m very happy and fortunate to have found EOPS,” Barrera added. “They really go above and beyond to help their students.” 

In addition to the academic support she has received from EOPS, Barrera is now a student worker in the program’s office. She does administrative work and greets students when they come in. 

“She really is our cheerleader and a great spokesperson for EOPS,” said Robles. “She does all of this with pride and a great smile.”

The job has given Barrera professional experience for her resume and inspiration for her future career. 

“I get to know who the students are, and as a political science major it’s very important to be connected to the community,” she added.

Barrera hopes to give back to the community one day as an immigration lawyer. She is a member of Higher Education for AB 540 Students (HEFAS) and helps other undocumented students find support. Barrera plans to transfer to UC Berkeley -- a school she was told she could never get into. She encourages other students to keep looking for resources and never take no for an answer.

“De Anza can help you get to your ultimate goal,” she said. “The environment, the community is so open minded, and makes me feel like I belong here -- like I can make a difference in the world.” 

Watch the video for highlights from the event.  

Joint Venture Silicon Valley's Institute for Regional Studies recently released two research briefs on poverty and income inequality in the Bay Area. JVSV researcher Jon Haveman announced the research findings in an event held Oct. 6 at De Anza:

  • While poverty rates in the Bay Area are among the lowest in California and the nation, the gap between the haves and have-nots is widening. 
  • Children experience poverty at higher rates than the general population. In the Bay Area, one in seven children live in poverty.
  • Poverty rates vary significantly across the region (13.8% in San Francisco to 7.8% in San Mateo County).
  • State and federal policy changes are necessary to fight poverty and income inequality. 

The event also included a panel discussion moderated by President Brian Murphy. Panelists included part-time psychology instructor LaQuisha Beckum, student activists Thảo Lê and Karla Navarro, former San Jose mayor and current Hispanic Foundation president/CEO Ron Gonzales, and SJSU instructor and minimum wage campaign co-founder Scott Myers-Lipton.   

Over the summer, the Euphrat Museum Art hosted its second Art & Social Justice Institute, a weeklong program funded in part by a Foothill-De Anza Foundation Innovations Grant. The project was selected as De Anza College’s Innovation of the Year last spring. 

Photos from the Art & Social Justice Institute

Selected students from the Learning Communities and Creative Arts created various works with assistance from African American studies instructor Julie Lewis, museum director Diana Argabrite and artist Titus Kaphar

“Just to have the students have access to Titus’ heart, mind and brain is incredibly rare and a wonderful opportunity,” Argabrite said.

Kaphar is a former student and respected artist who served as mentor for the inaugural Institute. Last year, the theme was mass incarceration, one of the subjects of Kaphar’s own work. This year, the theme is the language of protest. Kaphar challenged the students to work collaboratively to go beyond the traditional imagery and create art with a universal message. 

“Oftentimes when you see images of artists in the world they’re working in isolation,” said Kaphar. “The reality is we’re stronger when we work together -- our voice is stronger when we stand together.” 

One group of students collaborated on a series of portraits of unsung female activists, including family members. Each portrait is surrounded by a halo created from a collage of images. Victor Castillo, an art major, assisted in adding depth and contrast to the drawings.   

Hear Victor Castillo talk about his time as an art major

“There are a lot of really talented artists here, and not only are we doing art but also getting hands-on work with Titus,” said Castillo. “I hope people feel inspired by the touching stories [we’re] working on.” 

Although all students in the institute would consider themselves activists, not all would consider themselves artists. Nor does everyone make something that can be mounted on the wall. One student choreographed a dance. Biology student Sabrina Dean, who is white, wrote a monologue responding to her father’s incredulity at her membership in the Black Leadership Collective.  

“Being here allows me to be creative and see that I can express myself in other forms,” Dean said. “This summer institute is an important thing to have on campus, and I encourage people to come and see what we have to say.” 

Hear Sabrina Dean talk about her time in the BLC

Student artwork is showcased at the Euphrat’s current exhibit, “Endangered." Plays and performances will take place at the reception on Tuesday, Nov. 10. As for the Art & Social Justice Institute, Argabrite plans to host it every summer if possible.

“To hear from each of the students, coming from their own experiences -- I live for that,” said Argabrite. “It’s such a privilege to be able to continue De Anza’s tradition of working social justice consciousness into different subject areas.”


Scholarship applications are now open. Students can apply by going to MyPortal and clicking on AcademicWorks. Scholarships are funded by donations from community members, and are based on a wide range of criteria such as academic discipline, community and/or on-campus service, merit and more. Please encourage your students to apply.

giving tuesday logoThis year the Foundation is participating in #GivingTuesday on Dec. 1. 

What is #GivingTuesday? A response to the nationally recognized days for giving thanks and getting deals. #GivingTuesday is a global day dedicated to giving back. The Foundation is looking forward to using this day to increase awareness and support for their efforts to change student lives at De Anza and Foothill. 

How can you be a part of #GivingTuesday? You can help by sharing our #GivingTuesday page on your personal social media pages to let everyone know why you think De Anza is great. Consider supporting De Anza by giving a gift on #GivingTuesday. You can even encourage others to support by creating your own fundraising page, sharing why the college means so much to you, and how our students are an investment in the future. Donations start at $10.

For more details go to the Foundation website and click on the Giving Tuesday banner. Thank you in advance for sharing why you care to give back! #Give2FHDA

cover of aapi reportThe Campaign for College Opportunity recently released its report, "The State of Higher Education in California: Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander." The report highlighted programs using best practices that can support AANHPI student success. One such program is the Initiative to Maximize Positive Academic Achievement and Cultural Thriving (IMPACT) AAPI - De Anza College. 

IMPACT AAPI is funded by an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISI) grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The goal is to close the gaps in academic achievement and transfer among AAPI students by focusing on Asian Pacific Islander subgroups that are historically underrepresented in higher education. IMPACT AAPI uses integrated curricular pathways to provide educational experiences that support students. 

Read the full report on the Campaign for College Opportunity website

Do you know a student who would make a good profile? Does your department or division have news to share with the campus community? Send information for the next campus memo to communications associate Vanessa Smith at

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Last Updated: 11/4/15