Pictured: Yakira Gonzalez, ’24, and Laura Beltran, ’24.
Angeles Latines, a student organization that fosters a community for self-identified Latines and educates the campus on their heritage and culture, is expanding its reach and impact. A planning committee including faculty and staff members was piloted this year to support the organization’s initiatives.
Liliana Madrid, coordinator of diversity, equity, and inclusion, first connected with Angeles Latines in the fall of 2022 through the Student Collective, a platform for students to be informed about DEI on campus and share their needs. She met Lizbeth Burgos de Pena, ’24, and Giselle Mejia-Santos, ’24, the co-presidents of the organization for the 2022-23 academic year. On top of managing the day-to-day club responsibilities, Burgos and Mejia-Santos were also planning La Parranda, a festival celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. Organizing this event included coordinating with Meredith Events and securing food trucks, stage performers, and other vendors.
Faculty and staff members who assisted in the programming of La Parranda understood the value of cultural events for the campus community while also recognizing that students were facing a heavy load of responsibilities. Through a partnership with the Office of Student Leadership and Service (SLS), Madrid introduced the pilot planning committee to provide institutional support and establish a more sustainable organization model for Angeles Latines.
“The creation of this committee presented a unique chance to bolster student work and engagement. The primary goal was to support Angeles Latines and assist the organization in continuing programs and events that foster a strong sense of belonging within the Latine/Hispanic community,” said Madrid.
In the spring of 2022, Madrid sent out a form inviting faculty and staff to join the committee and partner with Angeles Latines. Current members include Madrid, Assistant Director of SLS Kacey Reynolds Schedler, Research and Instruction Librarian Amanda Sullivan, Professor of Education Monica McKinney, and Associate Professor of Education Courtney George.
The committee serves as a liaison for Angeles Latines to connect and collaborate with departments on campus. One of the opportunities was a partnership with the Department of History, Politics, and International Studies to host Understanding Birthright Citizenship for Constitution Day.
For the 2023-24 academic year, the organization also added two cultural chair positions that are responsible for planning larger events, allowing the presidents to focus on club management tasks. Burgos de Pena and Mejia-Santos are also preparing a handbook detailing the event planning process for La Parranda to pass down to future presidents.
“Last year we had a small e-board which made it difficult to plan multiple events. This year we have a full board, and even added more positions, which has allowed us to delegate responsibilities and plan more for our Latine community on campus,” said Vanessa Jaimes-Bustos, ’25, co-president of Angeles Latines for the 2023-24 academic year.
The new organizational structure supports Angeles Latines as the number of Latine/Hispanic students continues to grow at Meredith. This Hispanic Heritage Month, the organization has scheduled more events than in previous years, including
These events encourage inclusivity and cross-cultural exchange across campus, as well as support Angeles Latines in their mission to provide a safe community for Latine students and allies.
“I joined Angeles Latines because I wanted to be a part of something that made me feel like I belonged. As co-president, I love being able to give other students a place where they feel comfortable and belong,” said Yakira Gonzalez, ’24, co-president for the 2023-34 academic year.
As for the future of the program, the committee aims to continue supporting the great work led by Angeles Latines and partner with more student organizations.