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Meet the woman building a community for Latinx parents at Evanston Township High School

By Paola de Varona
Medill Reports

Evanston Township High School’s Latinx pride can be found tucked away in Mercedes Fernández’s small office in the welcome center. Peruvian and Latin American textile art line the walls, photos of Latinx ETHS families pepper her bulletin boards and a rendition of the Rosie the Riveter poster reimagined with “¡Sí se puede!” written across it hangs proudly behind her desk. With dark-rimmed glasses perched on her nose and a desk littered with paperwork, Fernández is an unassuming activist. As the Latino liaison for families at ETHS for over seven years, she interprets and translates, spanish-speaking families and school staff over the phone, through Individualized Education Program meetings or through encounters with faculty. Often, it means translating every academic document sent out to families. Born in Peru, Fernández later moved to the U.S. and became a reporter for Hoy and La Raza, where she learned to interpret on the fly when conducting interviews in English for a Spanish-speaking audience.

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