New Drake Community Press
The statistics are grim: The school dropout rate among Latinas aged 16–24 is 30 percent, the highest of any ethnic group in the United States. And only 10 percent of Hispanic women complete four or more years of college, according to the American Association of University Women.
A group of Drake students, professors, and community organizations wants to tell a different story—Latinas need not be just another statistic. They’re sharing that message through the Drake Community Press’ first publishing endeavor, The Ones I Bring with Me: Iowa’s Young Latinas on Identity, Education, and Success.
The book focuses on a group of mentors (called “madrinas,” or “godmothers”) and teenage girls (“ahijadas,” or goddaughters”)—connected through Marshalltown, Iowa-based nonprofit ¡al Éxito!—who share aspects of their lives via themes such as family and education. Through their stories, the book explores the Latina experience and how it affects girls’ perceptions of higher education and success.
The multiyear process involved more than 100 students and faculty from a variety of disciplines: Spanish, writing, sociology, graphic design, and public relations. The result is a book—written in both English and Spanish—that not only informs but also inspires.
“This text is for any Iowan who wants to find out more about the Latina experience and get an idea of how [young Latinas] will impact this state,” says Carol Spaulding-Kruse, professor of English, who led the project. “If you think you know who a Latina is, this book will break down all your stereotypes. These women are so different and face myriad issues.”
Spaulding-Kruse credits much of the Press’ success to the students involved with the project, particularly a trio of senior writing majors—Kelsey Lepperd, Vaughn Powell, and Madeline Matthews—who served as editorial assistants throughout the process.
“The highlight has been meeting people and having conversations that I would never have the opportunity to have otherwise,” says Lepperd. “Working on this project, I’ve found that Iowa has a much more diverse population and culture than I expected. I hope that versatility becomes evident when people read this book.”