Congratulations to Ariana Espinoza, one of the recipients of the 2023—24 Ooligan Press Diversity Scholarships!

We are honored to share Ariana’s application essay here:

As an avid reader and English major, the sort of literature I digest is very important to me. The type of literature I read in class is important because I get a look at our past in order to better understand the future. Meanwhile, the literature I read at home is important because it represents people like me in a fictional and sometimes fantastical world. Either way, the way I connect with the characters I read about and the worlds they live in makes the experience memorable. However, throughout each story, I fail to find exact experiences that are similar to my own, ultimately distancing myself from many stories. As a student and a romantic, it is easy to find contemporary novels about empowered women in academia who find themselves falling in love. Yet, as a Mexican-American woman, I struggle to find relatable characters who are Hispanic that fall into these settings.

At the end of May, I am receiving my Bachelor’s degree this month from a university with over half the student body being Hispanic. Finding Hispanic women in academia is an everyday occurrence then. So, this lack of representation in literature becomes detrimental. It is easier to find literature about younger or older Hispanic women who find themselves in a struggle to get to college, or just struggling with the many battles of being a minority. However, how many books are about a Hispanic woman in college, thriving in her setting? How many stories contain even Latinx women in general falling in love while they achieve the dream of higher education? If women such as myself are only left with literature about struggles that end in reward, how will we deal with the life after? These are all questions that I find myself asking as I browse popular bookstores such as Barnes and Noble.

With all this being said, I find myself responsible for encouraging the future voices and stories I will read as I pursue a career of editing. While I understand that certain tropes and plots will be more popular than others, I hope that I will be able to advocate for those unique stories that show underrepresented backgrounds such as my own. I know these pieces of literature will be enjoyable to not only me, but also to the thousands of Hispanic and Latinx women who find themselves in similar situations. I can only hope that when this sort of manuscript crosses my desk, a new genre of romance stories will begin to flourish and become more popular.

The 2023—24 Ooligan Press Diversity Scholarships are awarded in honor of Indigo: Editing, Design, and More and poet Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa. Scholarships are awarded annually to incoming students to the Ooligan Press Master’s in Publishing program at Portland State University. Learn more here.