Gala Latina: a celebration of Latinx roots, accomplishments

Twelve Latinx/Hispanic students were honored during the third annual event on Oct. 25

Hailing from different corners of the world, the Latinx/Hispanic community at Elon came together Oct. 25 for Gala Latina to celebrate the bonds that unite them.

Sponsored by the Center for Race, Ethnicity and Diversity Education, Gala Latina celebrates the accomplishments of Latinx/Hispanic students in the Elon community. Sylvia Muñoz, associate director of the CREDE and director of the Spanish Center, said the event’s goal is to acknowledge, empower and honor the outstanding students, faculty and staff within the Elon Latinx/Hispanic community.

During her opening remarks, Muñoz said this community represents a heterogeneous group of different national and ethnic origins, social identities, backgrounds and life-histories. “Being Latinx at Elon means being a student leader, a scholar, an athlete, an activist,” she said. “It means being proud of our roots, being strong, resilient and forgiving. It means family, relationships and community. Gala Latina provides an opportunity for us to gather as a community.”

In the past, the event has been held in the spring. Muñoz said organizers moved it to the fall to coincide with Hispanic Heritage Month and to also welcome first-year students. “It is important for them to know that there is a community here for them to support and embrace them,” she added.

The event kicked off with two Latinx/Hispanic students performing original works that dealt with their experiences as Hispanic Americans. Isabel Martinez ’22 performed a spoken word poem, “The Reality Is…” that poignantly described some of the challenges faced by Latinx in the U.S. Imanol Yepez-Frias performed a stand-up routine about his experiences growing up bilingual and bi-cultural. The event also featured an address by senior Maria José Ramírez Uribe ’20, a passionate social justice advocate for all Latinx/Hispanic peers.

Recognized during the event were:

Academic Excellence Awards

This award was presented to students with the highest cumulative GPA in their respective classes.

  • Emily Ford ’20
  • Mackenzie Martinez ’21
  • Lilly Santiago ’22

Students of the Year Awards

This award is for a junior or senior who has shown great dedication, passion or awareness around Latinx/Hispanic identities or topics at Elon.

  • Mackenzie Martinez ’21
  • Lucia Safie ’20
  • Carolina Ferreyros ’20

Breakout Students of the Year

A first-year or sophomore student who has shown great dedication, passion or awareness around Latinx/Hispanic identities or topics at Elon.

  • Andy Torres ’22
  • Bella Martinez ’22
  • Nico Gaspar ’22

Latinx/Hispanic Honor Award

This award recognizes a Latinx/Hispanic student’s commitment to the community. This individual has gone above and beyond to create a more inclusive and representative campus for all Latinx/Hispanic students.

  • Kevin Alvarado ’21

Outstanding Senior Award

This award recognizes the leadership, involvement and mentorship exhibited by a Latinx/Hispanic senior throughout their time at Elon.

  • Maria José Ramírez Uribe ’20

Latinx/Hispanic Service Awards

This award recognizes members of Elon’s faculty and staff who offer constant support to the Latinx/Hispanic community.

  • Michael Matthews, associated professor of history
  • Randy Williams, associate vice president for inclusive excellence and assistant professor of education