Editor’s note: This is part of a series of collaborations with Las Fotos Project, an Eastside-based organization that inspires teenage girls through photography, mentorship, and self-expression. .

‘Con Safos’ is a visual documentation project in which members of Las Fotos Project’s Digital Promotoras program use photojournalism and multimedia techniques to promote awareness of disparities and stigmas facing their communities.

These stories address  key issues such as gentrification, access to green spaces, security, physical wellbeing, and punitive school measures.

See other stories and read about the Con Safos project here.

My project will focus on the life of Daniela Aviles, a student who like many others has faced struggles as a person of color. Many experiences that have impacted her mental health and have helped her become the stronger person that she is now.

Daniela Aviles, born in Mexico City and raised in Lincoln Heights, navigates the experiences that have impacted her mental health as a student. She is currently a student at East Los Angeles College.

“I did not find out I was undocumented until my senior year of high school.”

Aviles
  • Daniela migrated from Mexico with her parents at two years of age.
  • Transitioning from elementary into middle school her family experienced homelessness.
  • Unable to continue at Cal State LA because she was only given $40 of financial aid at the time.
  • Went from once being an ESL student to now pursuing an English Degree. 

“I want to help other ESL students with the same background as I.”

Aviles

Daniela has been able to develop great work experiences that have influenced her career choices like mentoring students at Roosevelt High School, Mendez, and ELAC.

According to an American College Health Association 2015 survey, college students identified the following mental health issues as negatively impacting their academic performance within the last 12 months. 

  • Stress: 30% of students
  • Anxiety: 22%
  • Sleep difficulties: 20%
  • Depression: 14%

     Source: Sprc.org

Daniela noticed how there are many other students who are undocumented continuing higher education despite the difficulties they might be facing.

Just like many others, she wants to become the first in her family to finish her career and help her community, by teaching ESL students and push forward to continue higher education.

Daniela has become the head of her household after her parents went through a divorce a year ago. She has now become the strongest person to help her mother and siblings at home.

Facing many obstacles throughout her life at home and as a student she has made the best out of those difficulties for her family’s future.

“Taking a look into one’s life can help consider what many others may be going through in life.”

Take a look at this story on its Spark page.





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