Student View: Southwest Detroit to East Lansing | MSU Today

Diana Talamantes is a second year student specializing in hotel in the Grand College of Business. On November 16, she won the Residential Business Community’s first Hills Climbed art competition and festival for “Raíces Profundas”, a poem she wrote about her experience as a first generation Latinx student.

When I entered the Residential Business Community‘s Hills Climbed Art Competition, I wanted to share the reality of being a first generation college student who was raised by an immigrant mother from southwest Detroit.

It was important for me to showcase my community as it has played a huge role in the culture of who I am. Southwest Detroit has its own community and culture compared to the rest of Detroit. The community was built by Mexican immigrants and others from Latin American countries. Most people dismiss Detroit as dangerous, viewing graffiti as vandalism, ignoring the murals that decorate my community with cultural pride.

But while I love my community, I can honestly say that it didn’t prepare me for the transition to Michigan State University; I experienced culture shock when I moved into a predominantly white institution.

Being the first person in my family to be born in America means that my family still hold traditionalist views of Mexico, including women who don’t leave home until they’re married. When I chose to become a Spartan, it meant becoming the first person in my family to leave my home so young to get a degree. It was extremely difficult, a journey filled with anxiety and fear. While my mother could give me strength and courage, she was unable to answer questions or provide real advice regarding college.

It was not easy, but I remember the stress I experienced here at MSU is truly a blessing; these are things that none of my ancestors had the chance to experience. I have found organizations like the Native American And Hispanic Business Students, Residential business community and Detroit DONE have helped me build a community of support here at MSU, along with all of my wonderful advisers who have been by my side from the start, guiding me through the process.

The RBC Hills Climbed Constant gave me the opportunity to show how I broke the stigma that surrounds those who are from Detroit as well and the negative stereotypes for Latinx students. I’m now part of the small 5.7% Latinx population at Michigan State University. I’m very proud of the journey I took to climb the hills to get to where I am, but I know the journey has only just begun.