Vargas wants students to leave with “cultural competence”

As of July 2012, people of Latino origin were the nation’s largest ethnic or racial minority, constituting 17 percent of the nation’s total population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

But, despite decades of a growing Latino population, you can probably count the faculty teaching Latino studies around the country on your fingers, said Lucila Vargas.

She is one of them. And through Latijam – Latino journalism and media at Carolina – Vargas has been working to build a new generation that understands how to write about – and for – the Latino community around them.

“The field is growing and so is the Latino population. How can you cover a group you don’t understand?” Vargas said. “That need increases, and not only in North Carolina. If you take a job in Texas, you’re going to need this.”

Despite an increasing presence in American life, Vargas has seen efforts to cover Latino issues come and go, showing momentary interest in the culture. She wants there to be dependable, consistent coverage that is absent of the negative stereotypes that still permeate the media.

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