When Carlos Ventura, now a senior majoring in biochemistry, first came to Adelphi in Fall 2018, the first-generation college student attended a meeting of the Latino Student Association (LSA) and immediately connected with the members of the group. He has called LSA his home away from home ever since.
Ventura said he met people through LSA who became his friends and mentors. “Without LSA, it would have definitely been rougher to get used to being at college.”
As a result, he said, he wanted to be an officer to “give back to LSA and to the Adelphi community because I was having such a great time. I want to give that same experience to someone who was in my shoes when I was a freshman.”
Now Ventura is president of the LSA, which won Organization of the Year from the Center for Student and Community Engagement in 2020. He said LSA has about 100 members with a consistent meeting attendance of between 20 to 30 students. Events have attracted as many as 200 people.
A place to celebrate Latino culture
The mission of LSA is to unify, inspire, educate and advocate for Latino culture with social, philanthropic and cultural events within and outside of the Adelphi community, according to Sandra Castro, PhD, faculty adviser and assistant dean of undergraduate programs in the College of Professional and Continuing Studies.
LSA has a number of events planned for National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15. The Multicultural Social, held on September 8, will be followed by a kickoff party on Friday, September 17. This year’s theme is El Salvador. The ballroom in the Ruth S. Harley University Center will be decorated with the country’s colors. “We’ll be incorporating the country’s flowers and we’re also getting cowboy hats because that’s something that’s part of their culture,” Ventura said.
There will also be a DJ and dances performed by the Adelphi dance team AU Bailadores. Other events are planned for the month, like a daily “Rep Your Flag” social media challenge during which students post about their culture with different themes, and a Dominoes and Domino’s event on Friday, October 1.
“Dominoes is very big in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic and it’s played a lot,” Ventura said. “We’re going to have a friendly tournament and then we’re going to have pizza.”
The shutdown didn’t stop their events
LSA holds events throughout the year as well, though some, like their spring dance team competition, were put on hold last year because of COVID. At LSA weekly meetings—which continued virtually throughout the pandemic shutdown but are now in person—members discuss events in the news that affect the Latino community, issues like mental health and the impact of machismo, as well as the significance of important holidays like Día de los Muertos. LSA members also do community service for local soup kitchens and raise funds for causes.
The club is like a second family
Dr. Castro stressed the importance of LSA: It’s a multicultural organization that revolves around cultural, educational and political activities, and it serves as a model for inclusion on campus. It has also been around since the late 1970s when the faculty adviser was Raysa Amador, PhD (former chair of the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures ). It started as “La Union Latina” (Latino union); then their name changed to Latino Students Organization and then to Latino American Student Organization (LASO) before becoming the current LSA.
The club’s focus has always been “ about bringing awareness, not only to issues Adelphi’s Latino students are facing, but also what their families and their communities are facing,” Dr. Castro said, adding that LSA goes beyond a cultural organization to one of friendship and support. “LSA supports students in their academic and career priorities by holding events that also focus on topics that overlap with their majors, career goals and futures beyond Adelphi. It’s also a fun space for students.”
Ventura concurs. “Our members really love the club. They consider LSA their second family when they’re on campus. But we’re open to everybody. You don’t have to be a Latino student to be at our events or to be a member. We’d love to have anybody come to LSA and learn or just have fun.”