César Padilla: The duality of Existence

SPA 107 – Final Event – Fall 2021

By Iris Hauser

On December 7th, Spanish 107 welcomed guest speaker Dr. Cesar Padilla, Clinical Assistant Professor from Stanford University. Dr. Padilla is a first-generation Mexican American whose family migrated from Jalisco, Mexico to work in the fields of Northern California in the 1970’s. Dr. Padilla shared stories and images to convey what it was like for him growing up in a dangerous neighborhood, having witnessed firsthand seemingly continuous raids by SWAT teams and armed police, and having to avoid wearing certain colors so he and his classmates would not be targeted by competing neighborhood gangs. In his talk, Princeton students learned that having limited or almost no access to educational opportunities because of a zip code was a sad reality for Padilla and other underrepresented minorities and migrant communities in the US. Dr. Padilla also shared stories of people who inspired him to become a physician. As a child, he frequently spent his summers in a small town in Mexico working with his aunt, who was a nun and a nurse at a local hospital. These early experiences impacted him and inspired him to discover his true vocation in life. Dr. Padilla now works with non-profit organizations as well with the goal of supporting and mentoring underrepresented students to gain access to higher education.

In SPA 107 students learned about the educational gap that exists among minorities, especially the Latino community, and all the socioeconomic factors that play a determining role in this gap. 

Showing a counter narrative, like Padilla’s story, is important not only to eradicate stereotypes that surround the Latino community in the US, but to also demonstrate the outcomes of equal access to education and the importance of mentors from diverse backgrounds and heritages that can serve as role models. Dr. Padilla concluded with one of the quotes that inspired him to pursue his dream when he was younger: “Telling our stories has enabled us to survive and pave the way for others to have their voices heard. It is in coming to terms with our past that we can honor it, learn to love ourselves enough to celebrate the present and co-create a future where we can move beyond survival so we can thrive”, Dr. Santalynda Marrero (2014)

Spanish 107-Fall 2021 was coordinated by Iris Hauser. It was taught by Oriele Benavides, Gabriela Díaz Dávalos, Lucía Filipova, Iris Hauser, Raquel Mattson Prieto, Catalina Méndez Vallejo, Adriana Merino, and Jonathan Romero.

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