Northwestern’s Latino community holds networking gala

Ally Mutnick

The Office of Hispanic and Latino Student Affairs and the Latino Alumni of Northwestern University hosted their 7th annual Latino Networking Gala Thursday night in the John Evans Alumni Center. on NU.

About 70 students attended, which organizers said was the highest attendance in the event’s history.

“Our alums are doing a very good job of getting the word out because this is also an opportunity for them to come back on campus and contribute to the student experience,” said Christian Yanez, the director of Hispanic and Latino Student Affairs.

LANU awarded $6,500 in three scholarships for Weinberg juniors Anthony Iglesias and Luis Frausto and McCormick junior Alma Gallegos. The organization gives a scholarship to Latino students annually.

Isabel Villegas, LANU President and NU alumna (SESP ’98), said she enjoyed the event because of the opportunity it gives Latino alumni to offer advice to students.

“It’s kind of cool to be Latino now in the marketplace,” she said. “There’s certainly a demand for it with regards to careers.”

Villegas said coming to the event each year shows her how much the NU Latino community has changed.

“There are certainly more student groups committed to the interest of the diverse population,” she said. “They are building sort of a different type of community there that’s more active. I think from a personal perspective, there are more resources for the students.”

Weinberg junior Sandra Garnica has attended the gala since her freshman year and said the event and the large number of Latinos she met sold her on NU.

“As a freshman, I didn’t like it here at Northwestern but once I started getting more involved with the Latino community, I just kind of made it my home,” she said.

Garnica ended up switching her major to Ethnic Studies after being inspired by the Latino community at NU.

In light of recent events that inspired the Caucus Against Racial Prejudice on Jan. 20, Garnica said the gala could be a way to fight racism at NU.

“In terms of racial prejudice, I wish more people who weren’t Latinos came to this event to really see that there are Latinos who are in professions from all over,” Garnica said. “They speak English. They are very successful.”

Weinberg freshman Raul Azucena said events such as the gala could be a way to change how Latino people are perceived.

“I think they help show people that despite the fact that we are Latinos, we are just as educated, we are just as qualified as other students here,” he said.