SF State student body president reflects on Latinx Heritage Month
Joshua Ochoa says in Latinx culture ‘food is a symbol of supporting each other’
Each year the contributions and successes of Latinx people in the United States are honored during Latinx Heritage Month (Sept. 15 to Oct. 15). We asked San Francisco State University student body president Joshua Ochoa to share what the celebration means to him.
Ochoa has been involved with Associated Students at San Francisco State since October 2018, working his way up to president of the organization. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Political Science at SF State this past spring and has returned to the University to work toward a master’s degree in Public Administration. Here’s what he has to say about the annual celebration, how he’s supported his community through advocacy and what he loves about his Latinx heritage.
What does Latinx Heritage Month mean to you?
This month serves as a reminder to recognize where we came from. So often, we always move on to what’s next because there’s so much of our community that focuses on the inequities that continue to exist. Our Latinx community is strong because we continue to push what is needed for those who are marginalized and left behind, but we have to recognize the accomplishments we’ve made in the work that we do! I’m proud to have this month to reflect and be proud of our community’s dedication to social justice and equity for all.
You’ve been politically engaged since you were 12. How have you helped your community through this work?
Yes! It’s always fun to see people’s reaction when I tell them I first got involved in politics when I was 12 years old. I first started getting involved when I saw my mom organizing on her teachers union’s executive board, and I broke out of my shell and got involved in Model United Nations. I got even more involved when the 2016 election came around and became an advocate and volunteer for the Bernie Sanders campaign. Ever since then, I’ve focused on priorities that surround working people’s well-being, especially since my family struggled greatly to get to where we are today. Going through the struggles of housing, food and financial insecurities, on top of the barriers common to the working class, have all solidified my focus on fighting for working people and securing peoples’ basic needs.
Are there any Latinx politicians you look up to?
Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) continues to be one of my biggest inspirations in politics. In a country where so much of our politics are dominated by those who lack diversity and intersectionality, it’s so incredibly inspirational to see someone like AOC defy norms and fight for progressive working-class values. Her focus on being accessible and being “one of us” is more impactful than most people can understand, because that’s what we need from our elected officials. It should not be an exception that people like AOC exist because all elected politicians should be a part of the community that they represent.
What do you love about your heritage?
If I had to choose one thing about my heritage that I love, it would 100% be the food! I know that’s probably a silly answer but it’s more than just food. Food in Latinx (and many other) cultures serve as not only a welcoming gesture but a sign of love and appreciation for one another in our community. Us giving food is a symbol of supporting each other and giving others what they need to live. Food is so much more than food in our culture, and I’m proud to call myself Latinx and support others as they move throughout their life journeys.