Being latino or latina on campus is not easy. As a very underrepresented minority in college, they have to fight off many negative stereotypes. Sigma Lambda Gamma, a latina sorority, is trying to break these stereotypes of Chicano/Latino students by hosting Leadership through Unity, Culture, Heritage and Activism (LUCHA), a leadership conference open to all MSU students on Saturday, Nov. 20.
The conference will be one step toward generating social change in the way Latinos are regarded. Speakers and activities will be directed at enlightening and empowering students to assume active roles in the community by strengthening their analytical skills, as well as reaching out to students who are not familiar with Latino culture. The goal is to have students leave the conference better equipped to function successfully in college and beyond. “LUCHA is important to all students, not just Chicano-Latino students, because its universal and valuable leadership skills and the progressivism of it provide the tools that are utilized outside collegiate life and in our careers,” said Allison Nevalga, vice president of marketing and new member educator of Sigma Lambda Gamma.
[greek] The Theta Alpha chapter of Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, Inc. at MSU is comprised of seven dedicated women, who are very active with the student body on campus and in the community. They took on this large project because of their passion for the cause their desire to establish themselves and the Latino community as able and competent members of society.
Vickie VanHurley, an advertising professor and academic advisor to Sigma Lambda Gamma, fully supported and helped the women in their endeavor by providing them with a solid foundation, helped with graphic design and created their banner. She realized the potential effect the conference could have on the future of their sorority and the Latino community. “It didn’t surprise me that they wanted to take this on. Even though they are a small chapter, they’re very prolific in everything they do and strive to do to the best of their ability,” VanHurley said.
The group received a lot of support and encouragement from various sponsors, including ASMSU, Culturas de las Razas Unidas, Office of Racial Ethnic Student Affairs, Case, Holden and Holmes governments, and their advisers. “Professors are encouraging students to attend because it is a cultural event, and it’s leadership either way. It’s important for everyone to learn about [Latino culture] because we are a growing people in the U.S.,” president and psychology junior Margarita Gonzalez said.
The conference is open to everyone and is free of charge for all MSU students. It begins Saturday at 9:00 a.m. and continues until 5:00 p.m. Activities include three workshops and a luncheon with a keynote presentation delivered by Victor Gonzalez, an esteemed professional speaker who was born into poverty, but worked his way up a steep socioeconomic ladder to become widely successful in his ventures. At age 35, he was vice president of a Fortune 500 Company and had built up an international market before becoming president of Global Sales & Marketing.
Other speakers include Marcos Popovich, Midwest Field Coordinator for the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute; Rosa Eréndira Morales, professor, mentor and director of the Hispanics in Journalism Program and the Minorities in Journalism Program at MSU; Dr. Jose A. Flores, founder of the Heritage Festival and the largest Hispanic publication in Michigan, Community Voice/La Voz magazine; and Diana Lee Hernandez-Maybank, creator of Iowa’s domestic violence database and a member of the University of Iowa’s Latino Association board.

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