As a Latina on campus, I often feel left out. Sometimes it seems as though I do not belong on campus. Whether because of an ignorant comment I overheard, or a professor openly singling me out because I am Latina, both cause me to feel extremely isolated on campus. It’s extremely difficult to deal with these feelings when I find myself not belonging in the university where I thought I would feel most at home. As a student I feel it’s my responsibility and others to make the university better, and to help others feel at home here.
As a first-year student, I was hesitant to become involved on campus because I believed I would not be able to fit in. As I looked for organizations that would exemplify the values I have, I was introduced to the Latino Student Association. I can’t lie, I was intimidated. I had never been surrounded by other individuals with whom I shared my culture, or individuals who wanted to understand my culture. But as I became more involved I realized it wasn’t just an organization, it was a family. All the members wanted to help me succeed and cared about what I had to say. I had found a home, our home.
The Latino Student Association provided me with a place I knew I could always go. I know that I have support from other students, both like me and unlike me. Students that care and want to understand me. Although, that is not all they do. The students encourage me to improve myself and find out who I am, something I think a lot of college students struggle with.
The Languages, Cultures, and Humanities department, and the Office of Latino Recruitment and Retention have also become a home and a great resource. Through them I am able to help the on-campus and off-campus community alongside faculty, staff and other students. I feel accepted and validated in this environment, something I’ve always looked for.
The recently established Latino-based fraternity and Latina sorority are a clear representation of the growing population and growing interest in Latino culture, and because neither organization requires individuals to identify as Latino/Latina/Hispanic, they help share the Latino/Latina culture to the community without anyone feeling excluded. They provide a home to many students and allow for students to be connected to resources on and off campus.
As a Latina, I can say that these organizations helped me become who I am. I can say I am an advocate, a resource, an involved student, but most importantly, a leader. Not only within these organizations, but outside of them. I can also say, with orgullo, that I am a strong Latina. I can help improve this campus, the community around it and other places where life takes me.