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photos by Lara Shipley

Milking the Surname

August 14th, 2002 · No Comments

Nella Garcia, a senior at Rice University, recently realized that in addition to her three majors in political science, English and Latin American studies, something else might help her achieve her career goals: her Hispanic identity. [...]

“There was a presentation on leveraging your ethnicity, and it will influence how I approach my future,” said Garcia, of Rio Hondo in the Rio Grande Valley. “It made me realize ethnicity is an asset rather than just who I am.”

So the question raised by this article is: just how openly entrepreneurial can privileged kids who are technically “minorities” — say, pale-skinned philosophy students with the last name “Sanchez,” for example — be about exploiting their ethnicities before admissions boards realize how astonishingly silly it is to think one can achieve real “diversity” by playing wheel-of-genotypes? I’m hoping the answer is “about eight months” — after which time my grad school applications will all have been submitted and reviewed. I probably won’t rise to the creative heights of a certain friend of Egyptian descent — though born and raised in Queens, he wrote an impassioned law school application essay about his desire to “bring respect for law to my people.” (“His people,” it turns out, are the partners at a Manhattan firm doing corporate defense.) Still, I am wondering whether I can get away with referring to the affluent suburb where I grew up as “my barrio.”

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