URBANA – The first Latina representative to the Urbana school board has taken her seat at the table.
The Urbana School District 116 Board of Education swore in six newly elected members in early May. Two were incumbents and four were new, including Citlaly Stanton.
Born in Mexico, Stanton moved to Illinois in 2014. Once here, she got married and is now raising two children.
For the past three years, she’s worked as a case worker at the YMCA’s New American Welcoming Center helping immigrant and Latino communities gain access to services in Urbana-Champaign.
She says her work skills – along with being a parent – were among the reasons why she decided to run for the board.
“My biggest hope is to be a bridge between the community, the immigrant community and minority communities and the school board. I can listen to them, express their needs and their questions in front of the board,” Stanton said.
The four members who left were majority white. There have never been any Latino or Latina representatives on the board, as far as activsts can remember.
“I think that it’s very important to have representation no matter which community. In this case, it’s the Latino community. I feel that it creates bridges and a better understanding and trust in those communities to have somebody who looks and speaks like them. So, in this case, I feel like being part of a school board that never had a Latino is going to be important.”
Stanton was officially sworn in on May 2. After attending her first meeting, she said she is still deciding her priorities.
“This is a new position for me. I have no expectations or specific agenda right now. I want to try to learn as much as I can, as quickly as I can, about how we work and what are the needs. I have to learn first, and then I can work from there.”
Stanton encouraged others like her to try becoming candidates.
“No matter whether it is scary or the first time you are trying to do something, it’s important to give your opinion and get people to listen to your voice, to learn what is happening and then have the power to have an opinion. Then you might have a solution for a problem affecting your community or affecting the future education of your kids. It is intimidating but just put yourself out there and ask questions.”