The Latino Student Committee (LSC) began when Jennie A. Velez-Harris, a former Gannon enrollment adviser began looking for Latino students to start the club.
She noticed that Gannon’s population of Latino students started to grow and wanted to make the Latino presence known throughout the campus and help them become close with one another.
Alejandro Gamboa, a sport and exercise science major; Stephanie Nunez, a marketing major; Rodrigo Reyes, an international business major; and Geyzel Mendoza, a criminal justice and political science double major, started the LSC. Mendoza currently serves as the club’s president.
“We felt that just like the Saudi Arabians, the Muslim Student Association, and the Multicultural Club had a special place in Gannon, Latino students should, too, have a special place on campus,” Mendoza said.
On September 21, 2012, the LSC received university recognition. According to Mendoza, members come from many different countries, including El Salvador, Honduras, Puerto Rico, China, Cuba, Mali, Spain, Costa Rica, Venezuela and Mexico.
Parris Baker, an assistant professor in Gannon’s social work program and the group’s adviser, said that the number of Latino students attending Gannon is growing.
“I assisted Gannon’s Office of Admissions in recruiting more Latino students from Erie,” Baker said. “As an extension of that commitment, I volunteered as a faculty adviser.”
Alex Mihai, a junior psychology major, said she appreciated the inclusiveness of the LSC.
“You don’t even need to be Latino or have a Latin heritage to join,” she said. “It is a very welcoming environment.”
In fact, the LSC is a diversity group for all Gannon students.
“The purpose of the LSC is to promote diversity and inclusiveness while educating and enriching the Gannon and local Erie community on Latino/Hispanic culture,” Mendoza said.
The LSC often coordinates efforts with other organizations, faculty, staff and the community to help educate Latino customs.
“Through these coordinated efforts, LSC will utilize its resources to provide pertinent educational and cultural information as well as leadership development for all students,” Mendoza said.
“The purpose of the community is to spread the awareness of Latino culture around campus,” Gamboa said. “We strive to be a cornerstone of diversity and a symbol for all diversity clubs to follow.”
“The Latino Student Committee presents a unique opportunity for the Gannon community to learn about the significant contributions of Hispanic-Americans in developing our country and to their culture, arts and education,” Baker said.
“I like that Gannon has a Latino Student Committee,” Mihai said. “It shows the diversity we have on campus.”
The LSC attended a conference in Chicago, participated in last year’s International Night, marched in the Erie County’s first Hispanic Heritage Celebration and volunteered for Gannon’s GIVE Day.
And there are even more activities to come. The group is cohosting Unity Week with Global Unity at Gannon University (GU Squared) as well as a Valentine-themed salsa night from 6-10 p.m. Thursday at the Knight Club.
The students in the LSC are often motivated and supportive of one another.
“What I enjoy the most of LSC is how supportive and motivated members are when it comes to LSC’s activities or events,” Mendoza said. “Without the support and motivation of members, there would be no LSC at Gannon.”