Hi everyone! My name is Lizeth Gutierrez. I am a twenty-two year old graduate student in the Ph.D. American Studies program. I was born and raised in East Los Angeles, California and went to James A. Garfield High School. If you have seen the film Stand and Deliver (1988) then you may have heard of Garfield High School. Well, that’s my hood and I’m proud of where I come from. My community and my familia shape who I am and the questions I raise as an academic scholar.

I grew up in a working class Mexican family where Spanish was not only my first language, but the only language spoken at home. My parents do not speak very much English and the highest level of education they had was elementary school. However, they always instilled in me the importance of education and a strong work ethic. I am the first in my family to go to college and the first to also pursue a Ph.D.

My high school friends either dropped out of high school or went to an in-state university and unfortunately dropped out later. I was the only crazy one to leave sunny L.A. and pursue my bachelor’s degree in the middle of nowhere: Grinnell, IA. Only three students in my entire senior class decided to pursue a higher education outside of the state of California. When I would visit L.A. during the summers, my friends would jokingly tell me that I was becoming a gringa (white girl) because I sounded “more white”. In other words, I was losing my accent. I was completely shocked because to people in Grinnell I was a Cali girl with a thick Mexican accent.

When I told my friends I was going to pursue a Ph.D. right after getting my Bachelors Degree, they thought I was crazy. One of my friends would often say that I needed to chill with that “school thing” or else my brain was going to explode.  We would laugh, but I quickly realized that I was making a pretty big change in my life that was very different to what I was seeing around me. Unlike many of my friends from home, I was putting off partying, marriage and having babies in order to pursue my career. Even my Mexican mother is demanding babies from me as if I am a baby-making machine. She initially thought that a B.A. was all I was working towards, which is what I thought too, but I fell in love with learning and I wanted more.

So here it is, I am a twenty-two year old Chicana in graduate school eager to learn more about who I am and who I can be for my community, my family and myself. My research interests look at the construction of the Latin@ body in popular culture. I am specifically interested in the commercialization of mainstream Latinidad as it pertains to U.S. discourses on second-class citizenship. 

This is my first year as a graduate student and let me just say that it is one of the most difficult transitions I’ve had in my life because I’ve had to find strength within me in ways that I never thought possible. Yet, I wouldn't change anything about this experience because I am learning a lot about myself.  

I look forward to the class y’all!  

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