‘Familia outside of home’: New Latine co-ed Greek organization recruits students for NU chapter


Photo courtesy of Michelle Maday

Three students stand outside on building steps. They are wearing navy t-shirts with the Alpha Psi Lambda characters on them.

Annie Xia, Assistant Arts & Entertainment Editor

DePaul University alum Alex Valdivia spent a freezing hour in 2019 uprooting invasive plants during a community service event organized by Alpha Psi Lambda. 

Even in the cold weather, Valdivia said he and other members of the co-ed Latine-focused Greek organization were able to laugh and grow closer through the activity. 

“It was like, ‘How can you possibly have fun in the snow picking things out of the ground?’” he said. “You could expect all of us to be a little snippy, but we were all in a really positive mood.”

Valdivia said the tight-knit community he found in Alpha Psi Lambda played an enormous role in his college experience. With over 40 national chapters and a strong Illinois presence, the organization has been working to establish a chapter at NU since 2019, said Vice President of Expansion Michelle Maday.

While the pandemic has delayed the process, Maday said she hopes to recruit at least six interested students and form a NU chapter next academic year. 

Alpha Psi Lambda has held over 10 informational sessions at NU, and Maday said she plans to host more throughout Spring Quarter. Maday said she hopes expanding the organization will create diverse, inclusive environments for college students who feel out of place. 

“Organizations like ours are really important because (students) need to have a place where they can belong,” Maday said. “Kind of like your home away from home.”

The arrival of Alpha Psi Lambda would add another Latine-centered organization to NU’s Multicultural Greek Council. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign graduate Onix Nava, who joined Alpha Psi Lambda when she was at school, said her college’s several Latine-interest groups allowed students like her to find a supportive community. 

“You would think that with more organizations, there’s competition,” Nava said. “But what really comes out of that is community and supporting one another.”

Valdivia said in the U.S., the term “Latino” tends to be associated with Mexican or Puerto Rican identities. Alpha Psi Lambda helped him connect with people from different Latine backgrounds, he said.

“Within the Latin community, you can’t just put us all in a box,” Valdivia said. “It’s important to highlight the differences and the uniqueness of other cultures.”

Alpha Psi Lambda would also be NU’s first co-ed Greek organization. Ricardo Luengas, who joined Alpha Psi Lambda at Northeastern Illinois University, said they were drawn to the combination of brotherhood and sisterhood. 

As an only child, Luengas said the community provided him with the fraternal connections they lacked growing up. 

They said their siblings in Alpha Psi Lambda helped him prepare for a career, including searching for teaching jobs, preparing for interviews and reviewing mock lesson plans. 

“I can count on my siblings to help me out with anything if I have a problem,” Luengas said. “You find a familia outside of home.” 

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