History professor highlights inclusivity impacts

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Dr. Sarah Seekatz teaching History 031, Mexican American Studies. PHOTO BY EVA MARTINEZ
Dr. Sarah Seekatz teaching History 031, Mexican American Studies. PHOTO BY EVA MARTINEZ

Have you been taught your history in high school?

Dr. Sarah Seekatz thinks not.

Seekatz, a major history buff who has a Ph.D. that focuses on Public and California History, believes ethnic studies in high school should be implemented.

“Nobody told me about my mom’s or grandma’s history,” said Seekatz.

She had no classes that included her culture’s history in high school but that didn’t stop her from falling in love with the subject.

Seekatz didn’t know ethnic studies was offered until college where she found mentors and classes showing her the importance of learning everyone’s history besides eurocentric-based history.

She came back to her hometown Indio to change the Coachella Valley Museum, when she saw no representation of Mexican-Americans even though a large population resided there. She became a project director for the Mexican-American Pioneer Project at the museum. She came to Delta College when she got the opportunity to teach a Mexican-American history class.

Seekatz works actively to broadcast California’s history with writing a book on the history of her hometown, getting active within Delta College by being an adviser for the MEChA club, and activising for certain projects like the renaming of the Dolores Huerta Plaza.

California teachers have been fighting to have ethnic studies in high schools and it may come soon if certain bills like AB 2772 are approved in the future.

“I would’ve loved having ethnic studies as part of a curriculum during high school as it would have made a difference for many students to learn about their own histories and the histories of other cultures,” said former student of Seekatz, Cristian Maldonado.

The best thing for high schoolers to learn is a diverse history so they are more educated and connected while also realizing they have a part in history.

Seekatz believes if Stockton high schools had the opportunity to teach ethnic studies it would have to be inclusive in gender, race, class and sexual identity while also containing the wide range of diversity so there is some difficulty with including that into the curriculum.

“I think ethnic studies is extremely important and should be taught in high schools; however I also have my reservations about it because if it becomes required there is a risk of having students who don’t want to be there and that makes the learning experience harder for others who do want to learn,” said Maldonado.

Stockton has such a rich history and it hasn’t been taught in high school classrooms because students are made to read about Christopher Columbus or presidents with no connection between them.

The students are asking for inclusion and representation so it should be given to them without having to fight for it. 

“It’s not just their history. It’s U.S. history,” said Seekatz.

The community should want to work together to further the education of students and show them the representation within our history and community.

There are some programs within the Stockton community trying to help educate the youth which include the Little Manila After School Program taught at Edison High School and a Stockton “Us” history program. Seekatz is also helping her club MEChA connect with the Stockton Scholars to provide more college opportunities for students in Stockton.

Stockton high school students are finding mentors and learning their history by getting involved in these programs but the disadvantage is not all students have the resources or abilities to get involved.

“The best thing you can give to someone is someone like them,” said Seekatz.