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'First Voice Generation' film screened at MSU, explores identity

October 1, 2023
Dr. Amanda Flores, senior director of DEI at WKAR, speaking before a screening of 'First Voice Generation' at Michigan State University on Sept. 28, 2023.
Dr. Amanda Flores, senior director of DEI at WKAR, speaking before a screening of 'First Voice Generation' at Michigan State University on Sept. 28, 2023.

On Thursday, Sept. 28, 'First Voice Generation,' a film following three Latino high school students exploring their identity in a traditionally Dutch area of Michigan, was screened at the Communication Arts and Sciences Building of Michigan State University.

It was presented by WKAR, a public media group provided by MSU, in partership with NPR, PBS and several on-campus offices and programs.

Following the screening, there was a discussion panel featuring two of the film's protagonists, Nayeli Mora and Gael Figueroa-Enriquez, and its director and producer, Cynthia Martinez. 

During the panel, Martinez said one of her biggest motivators for creating the film was representation. She said getting their voices heard and spreading word was crucial.

“So it's just making connections with people and just telling them and creating awareness,” Martinez said. “So a lot of what I do is very Grassroots and quite a process.” 

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Figueroa-Enriquez said sparking conversation was his personal goal for the film. He realized through conversations at screenings like this one that his story was making an important impact on others.

“It’s easier to be told that you’re not alone, but better to be shown it,” Figueroa-Enriquez said.

Mora said the film voices the experiences that many Latino students have had.

“It's our story,” Mora said. “It's not just my story, or Gael’s story or Angel’s story. It's the story of first gen students, of Latino students.” 

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Human biology sophomore Lizzie Ochoa attended the screening. She said that the story inspired action within her.

“Everyone's stories are important and are relevant, and everyone's story has a voice and has a meaning to it,” Ochoa said. “So I think that's what really resonated with me and kind of like motivated me to spread the word and show that my story is also important — that I do have a say and that my voice is important too.” 

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