Meet and greet connects Latino alumni with students

The Hispanic Alumni Association held a meet and greet on Thursday, Sept. 19, at 6:30 p.m., in Curtiss Hall. Roberto Garcia, the director of Multicultural Student Affairs, said the event is a bridge between current and graduated students.

“(This event) is very important because on our campus some students … don’t know other Latinos on campus,” Garcia said. “To be able to see Latinos that have navigated Saginaw Valley successfully and to introduce our students to our alumni so they can find some hope and inspiration in their stories is important.”

Garcia said he hoped to do more with the organization and alumni in the future.

“We’ve been working closely with Alumni Relations,” he said. “In the past, we didn’t really have any events, so this is our second Hispanic alumni meet and greet. … (We) have some other ideas that we want to work on.”

Garcia said it is important for Latinos to celebrate their culture and who they are.

“It’s about bringing all of our alumni affinity groups together just so everyone can celebrate being a Cardinal,” he said. “We have great alumni … and we need to celebrate their stories.”

Raquel Ladesma, the alumni director on SVSU’s Board of Directors, attended the event to support her fellow Latinos.

“Growing up, I was one of few people of color,” Ladesma said. “My first year (at SVSU), … there were no other students of color … who looked like me, who had my same interests, had my same background.”

Ladesma said sticking together is important and a common experience for Latinos.

“As a Hispanic person … our families and our cultures are very close-knit,” she said. “We like to celebrate different things, and when you have those commonalities with people, it makes things easier.”

With current world events and the growth of the Hispanic Alumni Association, Ladesma believes diversity and acceptance are making progress.

“I say we’re getting there,” she said. “I think it’s going to continue to be a long road, it’s going to be very challenging. We’re always going to be battling adversity. … It’s just the way the world works and it’s unfortunate to accept it.”

Ladesma offered her hopes for the SVSU community moving forward.

“I really hope that SVSU continues to support diversity, to educate its staff, educate its faculty on different things. … Tolerance is not acceptance.”

Alicia Valenzuela, a 15 year old dual-enrolled student, attended the event because she has family and friends in the Hispanic Alumni Association.

“I actually have a ton of people I know in there,” she said. “I think it’s inspirational to see them there … and have them tell you how they got through their college experience, and all the things that they did to overcome any troubles.”

Valenzuela said she believes people should embrace the diversity of other cultures.

She said differences should bring ethnicities together.

She said she hoped if people would be more open-minded and open to listening, then people would be able to accept each other for who they are.

“It’s all one world,” she said. “We’re all one species. We’re all somehow connected by someone in history. … I think that’s a big thing, because most people lose that … and they hate on other ethnicities.”

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