Latinx/Hispanic students, faculty and staff recognized

As part of the first Gala Latina on May 4, the university recognized Latinx/Hispanic students, faculty and staff for their academic and civic involvement on campus. 

The mood in McKinnon Hall was lively Friday night as students, faculty and staff took part in the first Gala Latina, an event designed to honor members of the Latinx/Hispanic community at Elon.

Sponsored by the Center for Race, Ethnicity and Diversity Educationin collaboration with the Latinx-Hispanic Union and the Elon Latinx-Hispanic Alumni Network, the event was the culmination of much planning and something the organizers hope will become a tradition to recognize the growing impact the Latinx/Hispanic community is having at Elon. 

“This event has been long overdue and many years in the making,” said Sylvia Muñoz, associate director of the CREDE and whose work with El Centro de Español has been an integral part of the Latinx/Hispanic student experience at Elon. “The Elon Latinx/Hispanic community has had a fast and steady growth in the last few years and this evening we want to celebrate that.”

Assistant Professor of Communications Vanessa Bravo, who gave the keynote address, said there are positive trends for diversity and inclusion at Elon but there is still much work ahead. She pointed to the percentage of Latinx/Hispanic students on campus, which has gone from 3.7 percent in 2011–12 to 6.4 percent in 2017–18. The percentage of faculty and staff has also increased in that time but it’s well below the 17.8 percent that Latinx/Hispanic represent in the U.S. “We need to keep working hard so that Elon better reflects the society where it resides,” she said. “Elon needs to keep working on being a good environment for Latinx students, faculty and staff not only because it is the right thing to do, and that’s the main reason, but also because it’s the intelligent thing to do now and in the future.”

Bravo also praised the university’s efforts to support Latinx/Hispanic students at Elon through the CRERE and El Centro. “I feel optimistic that positive changes will come and that our community is going to be better represented and better nurtured at Elon every year,” she said. “I hope that this Gala Latina tonight is the start of a longstanding tradition where we recognize the excellence of Latinx students, faculty and staff.”

Recognized during the event were:

Academic Excellence Awards
These awards recognize students who have the highest grade point average for their class, who have excelled academically and continue to show initiative within their studies.

  • Daniel Bascunan-Wiley ’21 
  • Mackenzie Martinez ’21 
  • Lara Horton ’20 
  • Hannah Greenfader ’19 
  • Erica Braschi ’18

Latinx-Hispanic Honor Award 
This award recognizes a Latinx-Hispanic student’s commitment to the Latinx-Hispanic community who has gone above and beyond to create a more inclusive campus for all Latinx-Hispanic students.

  • Mirella Cisneros ’19 

Outstanding Senior Award
This award recognizes the leadership, involvement and mentorship exhibited by a Latinx-Hispanic senior throughout their four years. 

  • Max Herrera ’18 

Latinx-Hispanic Service Award
This award recognizes a Latinx-Hispanic faculty/staff member for their dedication and constant support to the Latinx-Hispanic community.

  • Sylvia Muñoz, associate director of the Center for Race, Ethnicity and Diversity Education and director of El Centro de Español