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Alumnus Jeffrey Chanta champions for Latinx education equity

09.14.2023 | By: Valerie Spears

For alumnus and admissions specialist Jeffrey Chanta ’23, getting an education wasn’t just about learning new skills and exploring new topics — it was also about discovering himself and how he could make a difference in the lives of others.  

Chanta was the first in his family to graduate from high school and earn a bachelor’s degree — but he didn’t stop there. Chanta started his Master of Education degree at Texas Wesleyan University this fall, focusing on curriculum & instruction. 

“I always knew I was going to go to college. But when I graduated high school and had my diploma, I felt like I needed something more. And then got my bachelor's and still feel like I need more,” he said. “Since my family didn't necessarily have the opportunity, I should go for everything — every single opportunity.” 

With his master’s degree, he will expand upon his bachelor’s degree in political science to help focus his efforts in the education sector. He hopes to use his degree to help educate politicians, school officials and parents on the use and importance of different methods of curriculum in schools. But most importantly, he wants all students to feel the way he did about school — a safe place to learn and grow. 

“I love school. School is one place where I could be myself,” he said. “And I love Texas Wesleyan’s Smaller. Smarter. brand. I truly believe in it. 

“If you have a dream of being educated and have a goal, Texas Wesleyan will get behind you and support that goal. [The school] gives you the tools to be successful. That’s why I wanted to stay here.”  

Raised by his mom, abuela, two tias and sister, and after going through college himself, he developed a passion for wanting to help Latina women succeed in higher education.  

“Knowing where I came from and all the struggles that I saw with what all the ladies that were in my life went through, I feel like it's almost my personal mission to make sure that they not only feel recognized, but feel valued, respected and seen as equal,” he said.  

This prompted him to work on a research project with another student called “Las Que Pueden” (Those Who Can). The project is examining the gaps in resources for Latinas in higher education.  

Chanta is also a member of the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education (TACHE), where he’s been a part of discussions for “La Jefa” (Boss Lady), which is helping Latinas take on roles in companies like president, director and more.  

“[TACHE] is a family,” he said. “We relate on so many different issues. We need these groups to help us survive and thrive and advocate for us. They create a safe space.”  

He also is the lead advisor for the Latinx Student Association on campus and helps other students get involved in research, conferences and discussions so that they can receive opportunities to share their experiences and knowledge.  

“I'm bringing up students — bringing up Latinas, bringing up Latinos — because it's not about where you're going, but it's about who you're bringing with you and how you're helping them,” he said.  

As an admissions specialist for Texas Wesleyan, he’s also advocated for ways to help “meet students where they are in life” and help them understand the value of a college education. Chanta stated that he understands the familial pressures Latinos, especially Latino men, have when it comes to finding a job right away and making money instead of going to college. 

“One of the most important things is reaffirming Latinos, especially if they are first generation and low income, that they can come here. People are here waiting for you, they're here to help you — and you have a spot here,” he said. 

Chanta is continuing to take charge at Texas Wesleyan, paving the way for other Latino and Hispanic students while also getting involved in the community to have conversations around creating more equitable opportunities for all. It’s something he does not only for his community, but also for his family, creating a culture within their home to show his younger siblings the importance of education.  

“I always try to instill in them from a very young age that college is possible, and you belong there,” he said. “I believe that encouraging people helps them make their dreams come true. That’s what I try to do for my family and my community.”