Food Mother's Day Cook-off

Mama Reina’s Arroz Con Leche

A Mother’s Day Special

Authentic Salvadorian Rice Pudding

For as long as I can remember, my mother has been my source of inspiration for life advice, fashion, and homemaking. Born and raised in the tropics of El Salvador, my mother has mastered the art of embracing new traditions while still paying homage to her home’s heritage. In a true matriarch fashion, she has kept old traditions alive by passing down her inherited knowledge to the generations after her. As age inevitably approaches all of us, the importance of maintaining cultural traditions only becomes more imperative.

My mother Reina photographed at a family event—circa 1990’s.

During my coming of age, it was only natural for me to learn about the traditions that came before me, and those that will continue to exist after me. One of the most precious forms of tradition that has been passed down to me was learning how to make my mother’s arroz con leche (rice pudding). This divine confection is considered a specialty in my household—only making appearances during major holidays such as Christmas, New Years, and most recently—Mother’s Day. Enjoyed warm or cold, this traditional Salvadorian dessert is a treat reminiscent of the culture in Central America.

Arroz con leche (rice pudding) garnished with cinnamon and lemon zests.

Although I was not born in the motherland of my parents, I still find myself craving a deeper connection to the ancestors that came before me. As I become more integrated into the culture of my generation, I become worried that I am losing touch with my ancestral roots. In order to restore my sense of connection, I have found delight in learning traditional family recipes from the best chef I know: my mother. 

Before she can begin her cooking tutorials, my mother finds herself immersed in memories of the past by sharing stories from her childhood in El Salvador. I enjoy listening to these tales in order to gain insight of the lifestyle in El Salvador—although in my humble opinion, this small tropical country deserves to be seen rather than described:

Views of El Salvador captured via drone.

Besides my own family’s cooking, I also enjoy finding new recipes to add to my own personal cookbook. I recently learned how to make sauce from scratch after reading about the Norris Family Marinara Sauce Recipe. (Which has since been added to my cookbook—and it should be on yours, too.)

Passing down family recipes is not just a nostalgic pastime—it allows us to honor our culture in the best way possible: by immortalizing a connection to our ancestors. Families across the world embark in this shared tradition to preserve their ancestral roots, and to create everlasting memories—one home cooked meal at a time.

Recipe card for arroz con leche (rice pudding).


  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 cup milk
  • 14 oz evaporated milk
  • 7 oz condensed milk
  • cinnamon sticks
  • pinch of salt
  • lemon zest (optional)
  • ground cinnamon (optional)


  1. Boil 2 cups of water in a pot under high heat.
  2. Add 1 stick of cinnamon to boiling water.
  3. Once water comes to a simmer, add 1 cup of white rice.
  4. Allow ingredients to simmer for 10-15 minutes; stir occasionally.
  5. Check that rice has absorbed water, then add 1 cup of milk. (Use dairy-free milk as a substitution.)
  6. Add 14 oz of evaporated milk and 7 oz of condensed milk. Continue stirring to prevent rice from sticking to pot.
  7. While stirring, add a pinch of salt. (Optional: toss in a zest of lemon for flavor.)
  8. Do a taste test for sweetness; add more condensed milk if necessary for a sweeter flavor.
  9. Allow pot to boil for 10-15 minutes while stirring occasionally until rice becomes soft.
  10. Remove lemon zest. Check rice and lower heat until ready to be served.
  11. (Optional: garnish dish with a dash of ground cinnamon for an extra kick of flavor!)

From my family to yours, enjoy a traditional Salvadorian dessert with your loved ones this Mother’s Day.

Culture & Student Life

2022 Graduation Gift Guide: Top 10 Must-Haves for College Grads

It’s the moment we have all been waiting for: graduation season has approached us and it’s time to commemorate the graduating class of 2022! Whether they studied virtually or in-person, earning a diploma or degree is a significant academic achievement for many students—and they deserve to be celebrated accordingly. As this chapter in a student’s journey comes to an end, friends and family can show their support by gifting a college grad with something that they need. The best gifts are often the sentimental kind—but when in doubt, gift cards are on everyone’s wish list.

How will you be congratulating the scholar in your life? VC Social has researched the top 10 must-haves for the graduating class of 2022—starting at $25. Keep scrolling to find the best gift ideas for the graduate in your life. (Listed by price: lowest to highest.)

1. “We’re Not Really Strangers” Card Game $25

We’re Not Really Strangers Card Game—Target

The best ice-breaker for grad parties and hosting game nights with friends. Warning: be prepared for deep questions!

2. Custom Graduate Frame $35

2022 Custom Graduation Tassel Frame—Things Remembered

The best sentimental gift money can buy: a custom frame to celebrate the graduate. Consider pairing this gift with a diploma frame too!

3. JBL Go 3 Portable Speaker $29.95-39.95

JBL Go 3: Portable Bluetooth Speaker—Amazon

A pocket-sized speaker for a grad on-the-go. For under $50, this little boombox will bring the party to any gathering.

4. Instant Qt Mini Vortex Air Fryer $49.99

Instant – 2Qt Vortex Mini Air Fryer—Best Buy

Give the gift of quick and easy meals with a mini air fryer. This compact air fryer is budget friendly and will be sure to inspire more home cooked meals!

5. Alumni Merch $59.98

Ventura College Champion Hoodie—Ventura College Bookstore

Alumni merch and college apparel are great gifts for nostalgic graduates that want to showcase their school spirit. Support the alumni’s school by purchasing directly through the school’s website or bookstore.

6. Vankyo Mini Projector $69.99

Vankyo L430 720p Projector—Target

Movie nights at home will never be the same thanks to this mini projector. This tech gift is ideal for stay-at-home enthusiasts.

7. LaCie Rugged Mini 1TB Hard Drive $79.99

LaCie Rugged Mini 1TB Hard Drive—Staples

For the tech-savvy graduate: a hard drive is a very useful tool for organizing digital data—during and post-college!

8. Samsonite Slim Backpack $99.99

Business Slim Backpack—Samsonite

A polished laptop bag for the graduate’s next professional journey.

9. Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 Instant Camera $130

Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 Instant Camera—Urban Outfitters

In an instant, the graduate can document their best memories with this nostalgic camera (including receiving this gift). Say cheese!

10. Apple AirPods Max $469

Apple AirPods Max—Best Buy

Now presenting the hottest gift of 2022: Apple’s new AirPods Max. Ranging in 5 different colors, these headphones are a fan favorite— your graduate will be sure to get good use out of these!

Culture & Student Life

“The First-Gen Club” with Jocelyn Herrera and Special Guests: Itzel Hurtado & Eduardo Coyotzi Zarate

“The First-Gen Club” offers advice on how to thrive despite the challenges of navigating through life as a first generation student. Commentary and real testimonials from first generation post-grads on what they wish they knew before starting college, and how to manage the unique challenges that come with seeking a higher education. This episode features special guests Itzel Hurtado and Eduardo Coyotzi Zarate. Itzel Hurtado is a coordinated paralegal at the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) and graduated from St. John’s University with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice. Eduardo Coyotzi Zarate is a communications associate at Chorus America, and graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. 

Love the podcast? For more advice with college students in mind, visit VC Social for more content by Jocelyn Herrera. 

"The First-Gen Club" with Jocelyn Herrera and Special Guests: Itzel Hurtado & Eduardo Coyotzi Zarate VC Social

Culture & Student Life

A Graduate’s Guide to Interview Etiquette: 10 Tips for College Students Entering the Workforce

How to snag your dream job after graduating from college.

Unemployed young university woman looking for work or job after graduation at the post board

Congratulations! You have officially completed your journey as a college student. So, what now? Unless you plan on taking a gap year to “find yourself”, à la Eat Pray Love, then it’s likely you have started the process of hunting for your dream job. Whether you are a recent college grad or a seasoned professional in the workforce, the fundamentals of recruitment have remained the same. Want to snag your dream job? Try these 10 tips when you are ready for your next professional opportunity:

The Pre-Interview

Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

  1. Do Your Homework: Before you think about applying to that job, you need to do your own research on the company you are interested in. 
  • Familiarize yourself with the company, its values, and employee culture.
  • Use employment websites like Indeed, Glassdoor, and Linked-In to read company reviews and learn about the challenges of the role you’re applying to.

2. Revise Your Resume: A no-brainer when job hunting is to update your resume with current and relevant experience.

  • Limit resume to one page-only include experience that relates to the job position you are applying to.
  • Proofread your documents to catch any typos or grammar mistakes.
  • Keep multiple copies on hand for in-person interviews and store them inside of a folder or binder.

3. Practice Makes Perfect: Practice your interview presentation in preparation for your official interview.

  • Practice speaking in front of a mirror to improve your communication skills.
  • Review commonly asked interview questions such as: “tell us about yourself” or “why should we hire you”.

Now that you’re refreshed on the pre-interview ritual, let’s jump straight to business: how to prepare for the big meeting.

The Interview Process

Dress how you want to be addressed.

Bianca Frazier

4. First Impressions: Professionalism never goes out of style, so dress accordingly and keep a polished appearance when meeting with a potential employer for the first time.

  • Check your interview outfit for stains, loose threads, or any imperfections; keep a lint roller handy if needed. 
  • Steam or iron your garments: wrinkles look cute on French Bulldogs, not on your button-down shirt. 
  • Maintain proper grooming standards to look bright eyed and bushy tailed in person or on camera.

5. Be On Time: Whether it’s virtual or in-person, don’t be late for your interview! 

  • Allocate time for traffic and other factors out of your control.
  • Ask for directions so you are familiar with the building number or office space.
  • Show up 10 minutes early to your in-person interview; for virtual meetings, arrive at the waiting room before your interviewer.

6. Mind Your Manners: Be aware of your non-verbal and verbal communication when interacting with recruiters.

  • Positive body language: firm handshake, make direct eye contact, sit up straight, and smile.
  • Be confident and speak clearly when answering questions.  
  • Avoid using excessive filler words (“uhm”, “uh”, “like”) when you get a nervous tick; use pauses instead.

7. Do Not Disturb Mode: Only bring necessary materials that you will need for your interview process.

  • Silence all devices to avoid disruptions during conversations.
  • Un-sync smart devices that are programmed to ring at the same time; this is crucial for virtual meetings/Zoom calls.

8. Humble Brag: Showcase your personality and accomplishments to make a lasting impression.

  • No self deprecating talk; this makes it seem that you are lacking in confidence.
  • Speak positively about your accomplishments; mention any proud moments that occurred in school, clubs, sports, or other extra curricular activities. 
  • Be honest about your current skill level and don’t lie to impress a potential employer; you may be asked to follow up on your words.

Great job! You survived the interview process. Now it’s time to finish off strong and close the deal.

The Post-Interview

You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.

Rosalynn Carter

9. Q&A: Be inquisitive and ask questions at the end of your interview to stand out from other candidates.

  • Use your research from Tip #1 to base your questions; include questions that reflect your interest in the position.
  • Ask for clarification from the interviewer if you are confused about what is being asked.
  • Listen carefully before answering and think about what you are going to say next.

10. Send a “Thank You” Note: Follow up with your interviewer and send them a “thank you” note for taking the time to meet with you.

  • Keep important contact info if you are interested in the job to make follow ups easy.
  • Reference what was said during the interview in your note. 
  • Enhance your chances of getting hired by expressing your appreciation.

Now that you’ve made it to the end of this list, it’s time to show the world what you’re capable of! Remember that preparation is the key to your success. Make a memorable first impression by minding your manners and remaining professional. Set yourself apart from the competition by practicing the 10 Interview Etiquette tips listed above and pretty soon you’ll be celebrating your new hire status. Good luck!

Need more information about your career needs? Visit Ventura College’s Career Center for access to seminars, help with resume writing, job postings, career planning, and much more!