In the next several pages, qvMagazine will profile several Latino men who have acquired--and continue to acquire--the knowledge that is necessary for them to reach greater heights in their lives. It is a great honor to introduce you to these fine scholars who are true leaders and positive role models in our Latino community.
Osvaldo (Ozzie) Del Valle
A 28-year-old who just graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) with a Bachelor's Degree in Latin American Studies and a minor in Spanish.
Were there many other Latinos at your school? Yes, UIC has the largest Latino student population of any University in the Midwest. We have 21 different student organizations and the Sociedad de Organizaciones Latinos (SOL) which is the council over all of them.
Were there many other Latinos at your school? Yes! But 99% of them were in the closet. Some ventured to the QV clubs but were definitely NOT out at school. It was really sad.
How are you involved in the community? I was President (elected openly QV) of the Puerto Rican Student Association (PRSA) at UIC. I was an active member of PRIDE at UIC. I co-founded SOL, Noche de Poetas and the short lived Salsa-Soul (a student organization for QV people of color ). I am currently the local Co-Chair for LLEGO's Sexto Encuentro Nacional (the Latina/o lesbian, QV, bisexual, transgender conference happening in Chicago on October 8-11, 1998).
What does knowledge mean to you? Man, knowledge is EVERYTHING! I remember when I finally admitted to myself that I was QV, I went to the QV book store here in Chi-town and looked for books about being QV: the coming out process, fiction, history, you name it. The only sad part was that I found NOTHING on Latino stuff. Learning about who one is (QV and Latino) is vital and important. My credo is KNOWLEDGE=ARTILLERY= STRENGTH=PRIDE=POWER.
How did you get into your college? By the skin of my teeth! I was not the smartest guy in high school or anything. A special program called LARES (Latin American Recruitment & Educational Services) at UIC helped me get in. I can now proudly say that I graduated with honors from college. All I needed was a chance.
How was your college experience as a student? My first two years I can honestly say were not that eventful. My later three years were SLAMMIN! I accomplished so much through student activism. I learned so much from my major and minor about who I was and what I wanted to do with my life.
How was your college experience as a Latino? Lonely. Lonely in the sense that I was one of fewer than five openly QV or lesbian Latinas/os at my school. I wished more of my hermanos y hermanas that I knew were QV would have come out. Particularly, I wished the old president of the Mexican club at school would have come out. I believe it would have had a positive impact to have the two presidents of the two largest Latino cultural organizations be openly QV-but it did not work out that way. Because I was so prominent and respected within the Latino student body, I never received any anti-QV attacks, whether it be physical or verbal. That is very important! I do not know if it would have been the same ten years ago. I, also, thought that both Puerto Rican and Latino males would have stayed away from the PRSA since it had a QV president (you know, guilty by association?), but they didn't-they joined up. The club was equally male and female. I am happy that by being QV, out, and proud, I was able to help some of my QV brothers and sisters better accept themselves and come out as well.
Where do you see yourself 5-10 years from now? What are your long term goals? Finishing up my Ph.D. in either English or History and teaching in a Latin American or Carribbean Studies program. Hopefully, I'll have two Latino books of fiction published by then as well.
What advice do you have for our younger Latino hermanos regarding education? If you like working at McDonald's...don't go to college! If you want to make more than $6.00 per hour, then you HAVE TO GO TO COLLEGE. Education teaches you so much about yourself as well as life. I am tired of seeing too many hermanos who would rather go clubbing and have a night life than go to college and make something out of themselves. You really have to ask yourself if you're happy in life, and what your priorities are and should be. Remember, that cute little QV boutique you work at is not always going to pay the rent. You definitely need some skills to fall back on!
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