Creating spaces for representation
Before even completing his third semester, first-generation college student Drake Marquez’25 is already finding ways to appreciate and elevate the experiences of his peers, from drafting a new club charter for Spanish-speaking Beloiters to becoming involved in student government.
Sophomore Drake Marquez’s calm confidence speaks to his desire to create spaces where everyone feels appreciated, whether it’s in the classroom or on the football field. He’s thankful for the people at Beloit who have mentored him so far, especially since his parents didn’t graduate from college and he didn’t have many other teachers and other role models who looked like him growing up. He wants to change that for future generations, which is why he wants to become an educator himself.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and at first I didn’t want to go to college,” he says. “Education was not big in my house. When I decided that I did want to go to college, it was mainly football that brought me in. I had friends who struggled, and I felt like I could have been a resource as a teacher.”
Now a history and education and youth studies double major with a minor in Spanish, Drake has been able to finally take classes he’s really excited about, including Africa and the Black Atlantic, as well as his AMP class, Latino Studies. These courses — and his inspiring professors — gave Drake a broader look at the history of American intervention in foreign affairs around the world and even helped him learn more about his roots.
“In high school, I never related to my classes,” says Drake. He was excited to learn about immigrant communities like Humboldt Park in Chicago, where his grandfather first settled from Puerto Rico via New York’s immigration hub at Ellis Island.
His AMP advisor (and fellow Puerto Rican), Harry C. Moore Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures Sylvia Lopez, has become much more than a resource for Drake. Between multiple Spanish classes and the Latino Studies course, she helped push him in the direction of education courses and coached him through writing college-level papers. She’s also encouraged his desire to become more involved on campus.
One such venture is Drake’s plan for a new club, which he hopes to bring to life with the help of a few friends and football teammates next year. Over the last few years, Latinx Voices and Spanish Club (both of which Lopez advises) have had low event turnout, so Drake hopes the new club — tentatively called La Cultura — will build a stronger community among Spanish-speaking Latinos on campus. He mentioned a few club activity ideas, including salsa and bachata dance lessons, games like dominoes, and Spanish-language karaoke.
While Drake is taking a break from advising first-year football players — starting as a running back this year, he injured his shoulder towards the end of the season and took on a mentor role — he’s also making his voice heard on campus as a student senator. He’s a member of the financial aid board and was recently trained for the judicial board, which allows him to be called upon to represent his peers.
“It’s really cool that I have a voice now,” Drake says. “I don’t have to sit back and let things happen, but I can speak up and challenge some notions. It’s great to be involved.”