By Megan Gonzalez
The city of Orlando is diverse with all different kinds of people. Hispanics make up more than a third of the population in Orlando, and that population is seen represented here at the University of Central Florida. In 2017, UCF became recognized as a Hispanic Serving Institution, or a college/university with a population made up of more than 25% Hispanic and Latinx students. But UCF started serving Hispanic students long before this designation. In 1990, UCF established a minor for Latin American Studies, and in the same year, UCF became an Associate Member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU).
For the last three decades, UCF has continued serving its Hispanic and Latinx students through registered student organizations, first-year advising and mentor programs, and tracks of study. However, some students may be unaware of these resources available to them. I myself am a Mexican-American student at UCF, one who only learned about some of these organizations and opportunities once I began researching it in my junior year. If you’re like me and are a Hispanic or Latinx student who maybe isn’t aware of what UCF is doing for you, or you just want to get more involved on campus, here are some ways UCF serves its Hispanic students.
CREAR Futuros is a peer-mentor initiative open to freshman and sophomore students, designed to improve Hispanic student success at UCF, where under-classmen students in the CREAR program are mentored by upperclassmen students. This initiative is offered to UCF students of any racial/ethnic background but was originally intended to be a resource for Latinx student success.
McNair Scholars Program was designed to assist first-generation and low-income students, and groups underrepresented in graduate education in gaining admission to graduate programs leading to a doctorate. Scholars receive individual advising, participate in McNair Seminars, and are provided with peer, graduate, and faculty mentors.
UCF also offers many Registered Student Organizations (RSO) which are run by and for students. Here are the ones offered at UCF that serve the Latinx and Hispanic community on campus.
- Brazilian Student Association integrates and supports the Brazilian community on campus while promoting cultural awareness on both Brazil and the Portuguese language
- Chi Upsilon Sigma National Sorority is part of the diversified Greek council at UCF. The chapter concentrates on programming centered on social, political, educational, and cultural awareness
- Cuban-American Student Association participates in socials, service opportunities, and is involved in cultural events, like Hispanic Heritage month and Cuban Independence Day. This organization works to be a bridge for others to learn about Cuban culture
- Destino works to create leaders from the Latinx and Hispanic community to impact UCF’s campus and community. This organization is also religious-based
- Dominican Student Association works to educate and empower the voice of Latinxs on campus in an effort to assist in cultural awareness, diversity, and to promote community engagement and inclusion for all Afro-Latinxs
- Juntos Latino Leadership Council’s mission is to help create leaders to work with the community, create a basis of Latinx unity and friendship, and provide a strong united voice for Latinx student issues and concerns at the University of Central Florida. Juntos works to serve as an educational and cultural learning instrument for all students, faculty, and staff
- Lambda Theta Alpha is the first Latin Sorority in the nation. Its purpose is to cater towards the needs of women on the UCF campus
- Lambda Theta Phi is the first Latin Fraternity in the US and on UCF’s campus. Their focus is on academic excellence and assisting the community
- The Latin American Student Association (LASA) strives to promote the Latin/Hispanic culture at UCF and in the greater Central Florida area. LASA serves as a connection organization to unite the Latinx community, function as a support system for Latinxs, and provide educational and cultural activities for members to participate in
- Latin Rhythm works to expand cultural knowledge of its members through the use and practice of Latin dance
- Latino Medical Student Association Plus empowers pre-med students through service, mentorship, and education, to advocate for health in the Latinx community
- The Mexican Student Association, or MexSA is committed to providing awareness among the UCF community about Mexican culture, traditions, and customs
- Rio Platense Alliance’s mission is to build relationships between Uruguayan and Argentinian students at UCF and to embrace the rioplatense culture through socials involving popular cuisine, music, and upbringings from Uruguay and Argentina
- The Society for the Advancement of Minorities in STEM offers a support system to ensure the success of all underrepresented minorities, including Hispanics, in STEM
- The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers promotes the development of Hispanics in the fields of engineering, science, and other technical professions
- The Spanish Graduate Association (SaGA) works to promote the growth of undergraduate and graduate students interested in Spanish Linguistics, Literature, and Culture
- The Venezuelan Student Association (VENSA) wants to educate people on the crisis in Venezuela right now, as well as promote unity and share the Venezuelan culture with those at UCF and in the Orlando area
Take advantage of UCF’s vast resources and organizations and become a part of Orlando’s growing Hispanic and Latinx community.
Photo image_5631 by A. Trumbly found at Creative Commons.