Constance “Connie” Destito interviewed by Scherly Virgill, November 30, 2016, Alhambra, California, Oral History #5954, transcript, Women Politics, and Activism Since Suffrage, Center for Oral and Public History, California State University, Fullerton.
An oral history with Constance “Connie” Destito, former Associate Dean of the School of Cultural and Family Psychology at Pacific Oaks College. She is also the Co-founder of the East Los Angeles Rape Hotline, known today as the East Los Angeles Women’s Center (ELAWC), the first bilingual sexual assault hotline in the state of California. The interview was conducted for the Women, Politics, and Activism Since Suffrage Oral History Project for California State University, Fullerton’s Center for Oral and Public History. Specifically, this interview covers her parent’s background and work history; her early childhood in Lincoln Heights, Los Angeles and her extended family; reflects on her mother’s and the women in her family’s lasting impact on her life and understanding of gender roles; discusses early education and mentors during teenage years; talks about the challenges of being a young mother, attending California State University, Los Angeles, and finding her identity; her student activism and involvement with the Chicano Movement; further discusses gender roles and her father’s traditional upbringing; reflects on standing up for others and questioning authority; talks about how she met her husband, early years of courtship, and her children; goes into a detailed reflection of the Chicana experience and her “developmental stages” during the Chicano Movement; her decision to start self-defining as a Chicana; goes into detail on how and why she pursued a career in social work and mental health and became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker; the origins of the ELWAC and the women who also co-founded the organization; discusses the ELWAC’s early construction, ideologies, and what she learned throughout the process; talks about her time and work at the Pacific Oaks College and the development of the Marriage and Family Therapy Department; talks about multigenerational trauma and immigrants; discusses her teaching style and student experiences; the challenges Latino and Latina students face in education; the hardships of undocumented students; the gender diversity and gender discrimination at Pacific Oaks College; her advice for what it takes to be an effective educator and the unique experiences women teachers play; balancing her home and work life throughout the years; thoughts and definition of feminism; discusses her retirement; her thoughts on current American politics; she closes with what she is most proud of in her work and personal life.
Constance “Connie” Destito holding her Jean Sanville Award, 2016.
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