MUA: Breaking Barriers to Success

Latinos comprise the largest ethnic minority in the United States, consisting of sixteen percent of the overall United States population per the 2011 Census. Two-thirds of Latino children in the United States live in low-income households and roughly one-third live in poverty, according to a report by the National Research Center On Hispanic Children and Families. Among Latina women in the United States, only 65% have graduated from high school, and less than 15% hold college degrees. These statistics stem from a cycle of poverty and a lack of educational opportunities, exacerbated by a growing anti-immigrant sentiment within certain political factions of the United States.

These past few weeks I have been interning at Mujeres Unidas Avanzando, or MUA, in Dorchester. “Mujeres Unidas Avanzando,” Spanish for

Mujeres Unidas Avanzando has helped 7,185 women and 1,420 children to date.

“Women United Advancing,” MUA is a nonprofit that encourages Latina girls and women to seek educational and career opportunities and to grow into leadership roles within their community. Many of the students at MUA live in shelters in the Boston area, and many are victims of domestic abuse. MUA offers a variety of classes and social services, Spanish literacy classes, several levels of English, Hi-SET high school equivalency test readiness, computer literacy classes, and home nurse certification classes. MUA also has a daycare on site so that students, most of whom are mothers, can leave their children in safe hands while they attend classes.

I am responsible for several tasks and projects this summer. I have spent a significant portion of my internship thus far working on an outreach project, which includes formulating and updating a database of key industry contacts in order to establish partnerships with similar organizations and recruit new students. I have also been working on public relations and marketing tasks, such as monitoring and updating the MUA Facebook page (give it a  if you feel so inclined!), photographing MUA events, and sending press releases to local news organizations.

On my third day of work, MUA held a graduation ceremony for students who completed a class this semester. Students in caps and gowns passed the HiSET, or high school equivalency test.

In addition to these projects, I will also be teaching a three-week introductory English crash-course starting in July, and have been preparing for that. My work this summer will help to further MUA’s mission by expanding MUA’s reach, both by working on the outreach project to recruit more students, by creating marketing and promotional materials in order to establish MUA’s presence and acclaim in the Boston non-profit community, and by teaching English.

By the end of the summer, I hope to have made a tangible difference in MUA’s reach and in helping students to learn English. It has been very humbling and inspiring to work at MUA thus far, and am looking forward to the rest of the summer.