By Claudia Ugbana
The Hispanic American Club hosted keynote speaker Veronica Guevara-Lovgren on Thursday, Oct. 18 at 2 p.m. in the College Center Corral Room in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.
Lovgren is the assistant dean of arts and sciences at Ocean County College and does a lot of work and research on Latino, Latina and African-American students for her doctorate program at Rowan University.
The presentation explored Veronica Guevara-Lovgren’s identity as LatinX and what it means to her.
Angelo Abreu, assistant director of enrollment services, spoke candidly on his work with Lovgren and explained why the club invited her to speak at the college.
“She practices what she speaks. The event today is to talk about the identity aspect of being LatinX and what that means, as well as the resilience of the community and overcoming challenges and barriers of this marginalized group,” he said.
Abreu said that he connected with Lovgren through work they did together at Ocean City College and was in great support of her work.
The presentation opened with Lovgren’s introduction on herself and where her background began as a Latina in America.
“My parents were English-speaking learners, and I just felt so bad being Latina. I was picked on at school and bullied. If you had told me back then that this little girl on the screen would be the woman she is today, I wouldn’t have believed you,” she said.
Lovgren explained the “X” in “LatinX” marks the resistance among the Hispanic community and the challenges they have been through over the years.
“I just love the X image so much. When you see the X, what does it mean to you?” she asked.
“X is definitive; it is kind of unknown and could mean a variety of things,” a student in the audience said.
“For me, X became a big marker of resistance. I think that X is disruptive in a good way and serves to reject the binaries or ideas we hold onto so tightly of how we think gender should work or who we’re supposed to be,” Lovgren said.
Lovgren spent a significant amount of time elaborating on her experiences as a Latina and finding her voice through most of the presentation, while occasionally asking the audience various questions.
Her work and activism over the years has been with DACA, helping individuals find jobs and get into school.
During the presentation, Lovgren showed the audience a picture of a man she called a very significant person in her life, who was a very close family friend.
She revealed he was a gay man who had died of AIDS in the 1980s, and at the time her parents hid the information from her.
“It was heart-wrenching to lose someone so close to me and to know that a very brief but profound moment of my life with someone was coming to a close. It frustrates me to know that he had to live his life in code. One of the things that really bothers me about what happened to him is that he never got to express his life and live it fully and openly to everyone.
“Everything I am and everything I have become is because of him. I became a big pain in everyone’s life because I wouldn’t put up with anyone being bigoted or homophobic,” she said.
Abreu closed out the presentation by thanking Lovgren for speaking at The College.
The Hispanic American Club meets on Thursdays at 2 p.m. in the College Center.