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East Los Angeles College launches first of its kind Central American studies program

The program “brings recognition to the many cultures that tend to get lost in the background"

August 24, 2022 3:57am

Updated: August 24, 2022 12:08pm

East Los Angeles College announced on Friday that will offer a program in Central American studies, making it the first community college in the nation to do so.

The program will be the first of its kind in a community college in the entire United States, said East LA College President Alberto J. Roman.

"Central Americans are the fastest growing demographic across the country according to a 2021 study by the Pew Hispanic Center. In California alone, Salvadorans make up the largest population outside the country of El Salvador, followed closely by people from Guatemala and Honduras," Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo said in a statement.

"Given the history of civil strife in Central America, many 1.5 and second-generation Central Americans who immigrated or were brought to the US as children don't know the history of their countries of origin, nor the contributions of the Central American diaspora to the United States,” she added.

Carrillo is the only Salvadoran immigrant elected to state legislature. She co-authored a bill that made ethnic studies a high school requirement in California, the first state in the nation to do so.

Students who complete the new program, which will be housed in East LA College’s Chicano/a Studies department, can earn an associate’s degree in Central American studies or take five transferable units in courses including the Central American Experience, Central American Literature, or Central American Film to a Cal State University or University of California campus.

The program “brings recognition to the many cultures that tend to get lost in the background," said Lana Leos, a second year college student in East LA College of Guatemalan and Salvadoran descent.

“What this program will do is actually acknowledge our Central American culture and found a bridge between the many Central American identities that are in our community with the Chicano culture in this community and on this ELAC campus.”