My name is Eduardo J. Chaidez, and I was born and raised in Oakland, California. Like many other high school Latinx students from Oakland, I dropped out (only 54.4 % of Latinx high school students are graduating in Oakland, according to the San Jose Mercury). I attended an alternative charter school called Civicorps (formerly East Bay Conservation Corps), where I earned my diploma and gained skills in landscape horticulture and construction while learning the value of environmental conservation. This path led me to the Backcountry Trails Program with the California Conservation Corps, where I lived and worked out of a tent all summer in remote areas in Yosemite National Park doing some of the most labor intensive work I’ve ever done. It was amazing. The following few seasons I was hired by the National Park Service in Yosemite to continue working on a crew maintaining and constructing trails. After a few years working in landscape and construction in Oakland, I began taking classes in a community college and eventually transferred to University of California Berkeley.  As an undergrad, I double majored in Art Practice and Ethnic Studies. I graduated last year (at the age of 32), and I have just wrapped up my first year at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where I am earning a Masters degree in Visual and Critical Studies. I was an Latino Heritage Internship Program (LHIP) Intern last summer at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, where I will be interning again this summer.

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