The second annual Gala Latina celebrated the successes and achievements of members of Elon’s Latinx/Hispanic community.
Close to 100 Latinx/Hispanic students, faculty, staff and allies gathered for a special celebration on April 26 in Moseley Center’s Lakeside Meeting Rooms.
In its second year, and sponsored by the Center for Race, Ethnicity and Diversity Education (CREDE), in collaboration with the Latinx/Hispanic Union (LHU) and the Elon Latinx/Hispanic Alumni Network (ELHAN), Gala Latina recognizes the achievements and successes of Latinx/Hispanic members of the Elon community who have made a difference during the 2018–19 year.
“Describing what it means to be Latino, Hispanic, Latinx, Latina, might be a little bit hard,” said Sylvia Muñoz, associate director of the CREDE and director of El Centro de Español, during her welcoming remarks. “Yet I know that being a Latinx student at Elon means a lot of things. It means being a student leader, being a scholar, an athlete, an activist, a community member. It means being proud of your roots, being strong, resilient and forgiving. It means family, relationships and community.”
Throughout the night, members of the Latinx/Hispanic community were recognized for their work within the classroom and beyond. Award winners were described as proud, kind, hardworking, resilient and passionate in their efforts to advocate for the Latinx/Hispanic community and make Elon a more inclusive and engaging community for all students.
In her remarks, President Connie Ledoux Book congratulated the award recipients and thanked all members of the Latinx/Hispanic community for all their contributions that make the entire community better. “Thank you for adding your talents, your stories, your smarts to our community,” she said. “I’m proud of all of you.”
One of the most poignant moments of the night was the spoken word performance given by Ana Eguiguren ’21 and Isabel Martinez ’22, who described the dynamics of maintaining their Latinx/Hispanic identities while navigating life away from everything that is familiar, in a community where they are the minority. It was a message that was echoed by Mirella Cisneros ’19, who gave the closing remarks.
“For us being on this university, it’s more than just a personal accomplishment. For us, it’s an accomplishment for our whole community. Our journey means much more than just getting to college. We are making history,” said Cisneros, who was able to attend Elon thanks to an Odyssey Program scholarship. ”We are the role models to so many young Latinx students whose dreams are to make it to where we are today. We’ve just changed our future but not only our future. We’ve changed the futures of our families and the future of our Latinx community at Elon and also everywhere else in the world.”
As part of the program, ELHAN representatives Claudia Rodriguez ’17 and Max Herrera ’18 presented scholarship awards to two students for their outstanding work and presented all seniors with a special stole that represents their engagement and involvement with the Latinx/Hispanic community. “We hope that you will wear this on graduation loud and proud as we both did to represent the Hispanic/Latinx community with much love and excitement,” Rodriguez said.
Recognized during the event were:
Academic Excellence Awards
These awards recognize Latinx/Hispanic students who have the highest grade point average for their class, who have excelled academically and continue to demonstrate initiative and model excellence in their academic endeavors.
Diego Pineda ’19
Lara Horton ’20
MacKenzie Martinez ’21
Lilly Santiago ’22
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 and representative campus for all Latinx/Hispanic students.
Lucía Lozano Robledo ’21*
Outstanding Senior Award
This award recognizes the leadership, involvement and mentorship exhibited by a Latinx/Hispanic senior throughout their four years at Elon.
Mirella Cisneros ’19*
Latinx/Hispanic Service Award
This award recognizes a Latinx/Hispanic faculty/staff member for their dedication and constant support to the Latinx/Hispanic community.
Vanessa Bravo, associate professor of communications
Diana Prieto Viñas, assistant director of El Centro de Español
* Recipient of the Elon Latinx/Hispanic Alumni Network scholarship