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Marshalltown immigrants share their stories at discussion panel Thursday


MCC Diversity Committee chairs, Carolyn Briggs and Julia Aguilar-Reyes, stand with the Immigration Panel discussion members on Thursday. Shown L-R: Violeta Aleman, Luis Argueta, Carolyn Briggs, Julia Aguilar-Reyes, Cecy Reyes (MCC student), Dr. Jan Flora of Iowa State University, Jocelyne Cardenas (MCC student), and Norma Maravilla (MCC student).

Marshalltown Community College played host to its first-ever immigration panel discussion on Thursday night, where over 80 students, faculty, staff, and community members gathered in the Babe Harder Gymnasium to join in on immigration conversation.

Dr. Robin Lilienthal, Provost of MCC, kicked off the ceremony by welcoming guests and introducing the night’s special guest, Luis Argueta, critically acclaimed Guatemalan filmmaker. Argueta led the discussion in which three MCC students had the opportunity to take the microphone and share their own personal stories of immigration.


Over 80 people were present at Thursday night’s immigration discussion held on MCC’s campus.

“It’s through these types of conversations when people begin to see the big picture,” said Argueta. “I commend MCC for the opportunity to speak and shed light on this very important subject.”

Most of the panel members had to leave everything behind—family, friends, traditions and customs. “Immigrants don’t leave everything behind for just a stroll in the park. They leave everything behind, because sometimes—if they don’t—they may die,” added Argueta.

Overall, the diversity committee found the event a huge success. “We are very pleased with the attendance and the general interest from the community,” says Julia Aguilar-Reyes, coordinator of International Relations and co-chair of the MCC Diversity Committee. “The panel members felt so empowered we started a discussion about founding a Latino Union on campus!”

“Luis Argueta’s films put a human face on the issues of immigration, and our students added their voices to the complexities of immigration,” says Carolyn Briggs, MCC English Faculty and co-chair of the MCC Diversity Committee. “The committee was pleased to provide this opportunity for our students and our community. Our students are the bravest people I know.”


MCC Provost, Robin Lilienthal (left), visits with critically acclaimed Guatemalan filmmaker, Luis Argueta, before the panel discussion. Also pictured is Julia Aguilar-Reyes (middle), MCC Coordinator of International Relations.

Other members of the diversity committee in attendance were: Barb Jennings, George Johnson, Valerie Ruiz, Chris Russell, and Tim Castle. The committee’s goal is to reinforce its mission to educate others about their principles and to implement a culture of equality among those who work and study within the college.

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