MARK: And would it be safe to assume that, in your formal education, prior to arriving at the University of Michigan, you probably learned very little about the lives, work and contributions of women… especially women of color… in American history?
VIRGINIA: Absolutely. And that’s one of the main reasons we came up with Leesta. Outside of school, we had strong women as role models. Growing up, we heard stories about the hardships my mom and our grandmothers had overcome as women in Mexico, but we didn’t see that strength reflected in our textbooks, especially when it came to Latinas in America.
MARK: When did the idea for Leesta first occur to you? And what made you decide to invest the considerable time and effort to pursue it?
VIRGINIA: The general idea came from thinking back on our own history education, and trying to name women that we had learned about in school. Beatriz and I could not name one American Latina that we’d learned about. And, after posing similar questions to our friends, who come from different cultural backgrounds, we started hearing the same things from them. Like us, they couldn’t name women in American history that they related to. Then, there was this defining moment when, about two years ago, Beatriz and I came across a beautifully animated ad for Coco Chanel. We thought, “Imagine how engaging traditional education could be if the same multimedia visual tools that companies use to sell their products were used to teach in classrooms.”