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Undergraduate Creates Brave Spaces Program To Empower Students

Brave Spaces, a year long course, seeks for students to share their narrative through digital storytelling. The student initiated program was created by fifth year undergraduate Silvia Navarro Hernandez, and was implemented for the first time this 2019-2020 school year.

It was developed through a collaboration between the Student Outreach and Retention Center, the Cross Cultural Center and the School of Education. Hernandez started the program to provide a way for students to tell their stories and feel empowered.

“I wanted to start Brave Spaces as a place to work through your narrative and find how we have so much power in our stories because they’re valuable,” Hernandez said. “We’ve gone through so much stuff, and our voices aren’t always heard so we really want to provide a platform for that … using their positionality as a student in this program to create more avenues of growth.” 

According to Hernandez, the end goal of the program is for students to recognize their power on campus.

“Students can after this ideally understand more about what their position looks like on campus and how they can use this opportunity,” Hernandez said. “We often feel like, ‘Okay, after this, I can finally do change. I have to wait till I get the degree,’ but the reality is we can actually do a lot more while we’re still here. Even without the degree we have so much power.”

Hernandez hopes the course will allow students to create the change that they want to see in the world. 

“So I’m aiming for my students after this to be able to continue initiating their own changes and creating their own versions of opportunities for students to create their own changes from there,” Hernandez said.

Since its inception, the Brave Spaces program has influenced students by inspiring them to start their own campus organizations and to further implement societal change. 

Hernandez is hopeful that the program “will continue to inspire more student initiated projects and give more voice to students after this.”

Brave Spaces will continue this spring quarter through an online format.

Autumn Martin is a Contributing Writer. She can be reached at autumnjm@uci.edu.