Fuerza Latina Continues to Foster Inclusive Community

by Kelly Cwik & Alexa Schmidt, Asst. A&E Editor & Senior Writer

Fuerza Latina, like many other clubs, has managed to adapt to the ever-changing circumstances and remains a strong touchstone on campus for the Latinx community, and anyone who is passionate about becoming an ally and learning more. Nearing the end of the semester, The Quadrangle took a look at the many ways in which the club continued to foster inclusivity and diversity.

Viridiana Roman, a sophomore engineering major, is the co-president along with Mia Emmanuel. Along with the rest of the executive board, their mission is to accomplish their goals and create a space of acceptance.

“Our goal as Fuerza Latina is to reach out to the beautiful Latin community on campus and give them a place to feel accepted and welcomed,” Roman said. “But most impor tantly, our club is to also give non-Latinos the awareness and appreciation of Latin culture not only on campus but also outside the college community.”

Roman also highlighted the positives about having a club solely dedicated to cultural appreciation.

“A common issue amongst the Latinx community is hiding your ethnic identity in fear of being judged, left out, and of not being given the same rights and respect as someone who is not from an underrepresented community,” Roman said. “Fuerza Latina, along with the other cultural clubs on campus such as MSA and BSU, gives you the opportunity to validate an important part of your identity. It is our responsibility, as cultural clubs on campus, to educate others about different cultures because society is becoming more and more diverse as time goes by, and we need to grow as a more loving and accepting society.”

For student Brittney Gallego, becoming a member of Fuerza Latina was more than just joining another club.

“As a commuter, I find it important to be as involved in my community as possible which includes joining clubs that interest me,” Gallego said. “I am Colombian and have a really strong connection to my roots, therefore, I viewed Fuerza Latina as an opportunity to join a new mini community at MC. I joined because I want to contribute to growing the Latin community in our school and introduce it to those who are not a part of it yet. Most importantly, I wanted to put myself in an environment where I can learn about other cultures.”

This semester, Fuerza Latina hosted a four-part series of events called “Latinx Professionals: Championing Diversity, Driving Change.’’ Latinx professionals led conversations to inspire and empower students from underrepresented backgrounds and built awareness about the professional oppor tunities available. Guest speakers included professionals from the arts, healthcare, engineering, and business sectors.

Additionally, the “Dance Series’’ is hosted every Wednesday in Alumni Hall. Latinx students teach others how to dance to traditional music such as Bachata, Cumbia and Salsa. While limited to 16 students and socially distanced, the members are just grateful that it remains a possibility for the club to have fun.

Event coordinator Isabel Vasquez points to the ways social media has gone above and beyond during this time of uncetainty.

“Because of COVID this year we’ve been more focused on building our presence on social media and using it as a tool to foster and educate the campus community on different aspects of Latin culture as well as current events,” Vasquez said.

There are three social media coordinators who run the Instagram page to make it as interactive as possible and connect to the student body. From posting about impor tant current events in Latin countries, to fun questionnaires, to feedback and raffle opportunities, followers are able to stay up-to- date on pertinent information.

The board looks forward to next semester and hopes that they will be able to host more in-person events, such as the annual Latinx Fest. Regardless of whether students are of Latinx descent or not, this club encourages everyone to become a part of this rewarding experience.

“This is an organization that will teach you and exposes you to the differences within all Latin cultures,” Gallego said. “It’s honestly a fulfilling thing to be a part of knowing that you were learning how to appreciate and be more patient with things you were not aware of or things that might be different to you.”