Service in Ecuador Transforms this Texan Transplant into a Bridge for Others

The Texas Story Project.

Originally from New York, Clare Acosta Matos (maiden name Stockbine of Irish, German, and Yugoslavian heritage) grew up in a very middle, suburban, single-parent household.

After some serious discernment and finishing her undergraduate studies in Pennsylvania, Acosta Matos, decided to do post graduate service for two years. It was during these years that her world view completely changed. She measures her life into two periods: pre-Ecuador and post-Ecuador. This was her first and real exposure to the Latinx/Hispanic culture and it changed everything for her. Thereafter, her decisions can be traced back to her experience in Ecuador thanks to her experience in mission and justice.

Prior to 2010, Acosta Matos never lived or worked anywhere for more than two years. After interviewing at an international nonprofit over Skype and accepting their job offer, she sold everything that did not fit into her Honda Civic and moved to Texas. Acosta Matos started working at St. Mary’s University in 2011 part time in a couple of capacities, moving into a full-time position in 2012. Her role truly blossomed when a student approached her one day saying that, “I heard you’d be a good person to talk to about support for DACA and undocumented students.” This happened in 2012. Acosta Matos views her support of undocumented students as a privilege and a unique opportunity to walk with Latinx students as they grow into their identities as Latinx leaders in the world and understand their identities. Helping students navigate the complexities of the immigration system requires not only knowledge and experience, but empathy.

Thanks to her marriage to a Latino immigrant, navigating the immigration system in the United States, and being a compassionate partner despite no birthright Latinx identity, Clare is a strong ally for those living precariously in the US due to immigration status. She has become a bridge for students—a person of strength, stability, and testimony to what can be achieved through hard work and compassion.

Although, Clare does not share the Latinx culture as a birthright, her love and appreciation is unparalleled. She also recognizes she has a responsibility as a well-educated white woman with social privilege to bridge social inequities, fear, the unknown, race, ethnicity, and social construction because she is so deeply welcomed and embraced. She summarizes her life as a bridge for those whose ethnicity and language might otherwise marginalize them.

Originally from Michigan and El Paso, Texas, Alicia A. Guzman is a senior political science and history major and philosophy and Spanish minor at St. Mary’s University. She has served her community in a variety of roles through Alpha Phi Fraternity, the College Panhellenic Council, previously the Student Government Association. She works alongside the Community Engagement Office in the capacity of a troop leader through the departmentally-sponsored Girl Scout troop. In her spare time, she works as a part time legal assistant at a law firm in downtown San Antonio.

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