Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Cynthia Aguilar: Co-President of the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Cal State LA chapter.

One of the most valuable parts of life is finding what you are passionate about, and Cynthia Aguliar has done just that. After realizing what she was majoring in wasn’t really what she wanted to do, Cynthia switched to one that was calling her: Urban Learning. Additionally, Cynthia was introduced to minoring with the Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies department, furthering the involvement she has with the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance. With goals of teaching and making a difference through the education she has received on gender, race, and more, Cynthia is powerhouse force, creating a future where political consciousness is more abundant. 

How did you become interested in your major?

Urban Learning is actually the 3rd major I’ve declared since I’ve been at Cal State L.A. I came in as a freshman majoring in Business Administration but I realized that I was studying that because others thought that it would be the best path for me, not because I wanted to. I always wanted to teach, so I changed my major to Liberal Studies, while in that major I began volunteering at schools around the area and I ended up volunteering in a Resource Specialist Program (RSP), essentially a special education classroom, which is where I realized I wanted to be a special education teacher. I then changed my major again to Urban Learning (ULRN) because their program is designed in a way where I am taking general education prep classes and special education credential courses concurrently.

Do you have a minor? If so, in what field and why?

Yes, in Women’s Gender & Sexuality Studies! I actually became interested in this minor while getting more and more involved with the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance (FMLA), after I heard my friends from the club talk about the discussions they would have in their classes. I took WGSS 200 in Spring 2014 and I declared the minor at the end of the quarter. I became more conscious of the world around me and I think that these discussions about gender, sexuality, race, class, politics and women’s rights have helped me become a better teacher.

What extra curricular activities are you involved with on campus?

I am involved with the FMLA and I am a cohort leader in my ULRN program.

What sparked your interest to join FMLA?

I was in the Annex lab one day and the president of the club at the time approached me and asked me to volunteer at one of their events. From what I remember, they were selling flowers for women in Juarez, Mexico that constructed the paper flowers and sold them as an alternative income. I volunteered with them and was inspired by their story and energy. I was looking for a club on campus for a while so I applied to be on their board and became an official FMLA board member in Summer 2013!

What do you think is the most influential thing that you’ve helped make happen through FMLA?

Definitely voicing out the need to continue the process of establishing a Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies major and department. Last year we organized a lot around the issue of being one of the two Cal State University campuses that doesn’t already have this established on their campus.

If you had to clear up one misconception of feminism, which would it be?

One misconception that I would clear up is that we are always angry and that this anger is geared towards men. We do get angry but it’s not towards men, it is towards a system that oppresses women. A system that values men over women. We see this in the way that women are mistreated in their workplace, in their homes and in public spaces. These women are your sisters, your mothers, your daughters, your friends, your ancestors. Knowing that in this life, no matter how hard I work, I will never get the same amount of respect as a straight cis-man, makes me angry. It is this anger that drives me to change these misconceptions. Feminism revolves around issues of inequality. Whether it’s sexism, transphobia, homophobia, worker exploitation, classism, or racism. Many people don’t support feminism because they don’t understand it, which is why our club exists on our campus. We want to spread the word about feminism and provide a safe space for anyone to ask us questions and clear up these misconceptions.

Before you graduate, what do you hope to accomplish?

I hope to accomplish some research (and possibly get published), more experience in my field, and learn as much as I can from my professors and cohort members. I also hope to build a solid community of feminists on our campus that will continue to organize after I graduate. I also hope to build a network of alumni in ULRN and in FMLA because I think it’s very valuable to have someone that has graduated guide you through college and your post-graduate life. 

What do you like to do in your free time?

I don’t really have much free time but currently I volunteer at People’s Yoga, a yoga studio in East LA, once a week. It grounds me and reminds me to keep things balanced in my life.

What’s your favorite way to get involved with the feminist movement off campus?

Hmmmm…well I’ve been trying to get more involved with organizations and communities around Cal State L.A. For example, FMLA tries to host events at local coffee shops and spaces in East LA and recently we marched with AF3IRM and the Ovarian Psycos on International Womyn’s Day. But really, just keeping up to date on issues online. I follow sites like Feministing and EverdayFeminism to stay updated.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Either running my own classroom, in graduate school, or both.

Looking into the future, what would you like to see change in society within the next 10 years?

Tough question. In the future, I would like to see feminism being taught in K-12 schools (this’ll probably be me). I want students of color to be taught how to navigate a system that is not built for them. I would like to see people my age be more politically conscious and active.

Her Campus Placeholder Avatar
Yzzy Gonzalez

Cal State LA

Yzzy (real name Ysabel, for the record) is obsessed with a myriad of things, including Inception, traveling, Downtown LA, and laser tagging. Majoring in Television, Film and Media and a lover of creative writing, Yzzy is torn between visual storytelling and using a whole bunch of words. Twitter: @yzzygonzalez