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The Latino Student Network (LSN) at McIntire performs an important function at the School—and across Grounds: It creates an inviting community that supports all Latinx and Hispanic UVA students with an interest in business. And as the United States recognizes the contributions of Hispanic and Latinx Americans during National Hispanic Heritage Month (the period between Sept. 15 and Oct. 15 of each year), the LSN does its part to honor it as well.
This year, the group has partnered with the Batten Latinx Network (BLN) to host “Major Exploration Night” Oct. 15, closing out a month of special events.
We recently spoke with LSN’s President George Villacis (McIntire ’20), Vice President Diana Villanueva (McIntire ’21), and Director of Events Greg Paredes (McIntire ’20) about “Major Exploration Night,” what they’ve been doing to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, and how the student group has enriched their McIntire experience.
As Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the contributions of American citizens with roots in Mexico, the Caribbean, Spain, and Central and South America, how has the LSN observed the month at McIntire, and what can you tell us about the Oct. 15 event?
Villacis: LSN launched a slate of events for Hispanic Heritage Month Sept. 18 with our “Welcome Back Dinner” for all new and returning students. We enjoyed some great authentic Caribbean food, along with an open dialogue of what LSN does here at McIntire.
Paredes: That first event was centered on gathering new and returning members to the LSN at McIntire. Existing members attended multiple student fairs to recruit students for LSN to build up our network. Once we had maximized our student outreach efforts, we invited them all to our first general meeting to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month. The purpose of this meeting was to communicate LSN’s plans for this year in a low-stress environment.
The second event, “Cafecito con Pan,” was intended to reach the majority population of McIntire. Pan dulce (“sweet bread”) and coffee were offered in the main hallway of the second floor of Rouss & Robertson Halls, which sees the majority of foot traffic in the building. Knowing this, we made informational flyers explaining the origin of pan dulce available to the Commerce students coming by our station.
For our last Hispanic Heritage Month event, we will work alongside BLN. This professional major exploration event will allow students to speak to representatives from both McIntire and Batten in order to gain insight on the two schools, and to learn about the opportunities that come with these prestigious programs.
Why is Hispanic Heritage Month an important opportunity for the LSN? Why does it hold meaning for you personally?
Villanueva: We organize a variety of events to recruit, support, and develop prospective Commerce students. In doing so, I feel Hispanic Heritage Month is a means for us to continue to develop our community at McIntire with pride. Our backgrounds are not only special to us, but also contribute to McIntire’s culture.
Villacis: We believe Hispanic Heritage Month not only highlights the contributions of the Latinx community in the United States, but also here at McIntire. It gives us the ability to showcase our culture and represent our small, but strong community. For me, the month allows the community members to truly band together and show the University that our community is vibrant and beautiful. I am honored to have the position to facilitate events at the School and allow group members to have a space where they are welcomed and embraced.
How do events such as Hispanic Heritage Month and your participation in LSN enhance and enrich your McIntire experience?
Villanueva: I feel LSN provides a support system that prioritizes growth and community at McIntire as we aim to become future Latino business leaders.
Paredes: Involving myself with LSN and being active in events such as Hispanic Heritage Month enhance my experience at McIntire, and UVA in general, because they allow me to collaborate with students who share a similar background. These are people who I understand on another level due to our Hispanic/Latinx upbringing, so being able to be around people I can relate to emulates a familiar environment.
Villacis: It allows me to use McIntire not only as a place where I can learn business skills and concepts, but also a place where I can help others in my community. LSN has provided me with an incredible opportunity to cultivate a Hispanic/Latinx community at McIntire, while simultaneously using this platform to help prospective Commerce students. My McIntire experience has been positively impacted by LSN, and it’s difficult to imagine not doing the work I am doing today.
The LSN and BLN Major Exploration Night takes place at 6 p.m. on Oct. 15 at Garrett Hall.