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Santa Ana Youth:

Perspectives of Their City

During the summer of 2019 a group of community members and students from Santa Ana, CA, came together with students and a faculty from Chapman University. The group came together motivated in building a collaborative project that would enhance and document youth narratives and perspectives within the larger Orange County community. Understanding that the current reality of youth within the larger Orange County context could be disparate, our group proposed for our first project to be centered upon the social and environmental realities of youth within the city of Santa Ana.  

This project will explore the larger Orange County and Santa Ana racial and educational context as well as display first-hand narratives from youth. These youth narratives will socially contextualize the larger social and economic dynamics that position the youth of Santa Ana within a deficit narrative. Given the perceived educational context of Santa Ana, it is significant to state the resiliency and determination these youth and educators demonstrate in their lives.


Kevin Cabrera was executive director at the Heritage Museum of Orange County at the time of his interview.  In the interview clips in the above video, Kevin, Karen, Anahi, and Adrian simultaneously preface and reflect upon their visions for Santa Ana youth.

Interview Transcript

Kevin: This is the one story I like to share with our youth and a lot of the students that I come across. I’ve done some research; there’s like a little over thirty museums in Orange County. And I’m the only Latino executive director. I want our students to know that we are capable of leading, and we are capable of making a difference in each others’ lives, and the community’s lives, and like I say, I want you to be the future leaders of this museum, I want you to be the future leaders of this space. That’s what I want from them. I want them to know that they are capable of doing what they want to do. I was never told I was that when I was younger. 

Karen: I just want this city to strive for our community: youth, elders, everyone.

Anahi: Knowing the history of Santa Ana and knowing that there is a development of who resides or who resided in the city is very important to know. 


AdrianThat sense of community that I feel, just going anywhere, and the vibrancy of language that exists here. Santa Ana, to me, is an entirely bilingual city. And it really shows in just how easy it is for the two worlds to come together through the common use of the Spanish language and how influential that is just in everything.

Kevin: A lot of people say they’re the future, and it’s like, no, they don’t have to be the future, they can be Right Now. Make your mark right now. You can make your mark right now.

Youth Voices of Santa Ana

interviews, research, & analysis

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