Through the on campus involvement and engagement process, UTSA students often find themselves forming communities that are united by shared experiences, causes, or academic/professional areas of interest. The Student Center for Community Engagement offers opportunities to form communities within the UTSA campus, which in turn means that students have a supportive group of friends and colleagues, are part of a larger rewarding cause or mission, and being challenged to develop into more aware, active members of the larger communities they represent. Further, these community experiences better prepare students for the professional world. Studies demonstrate that students who are more involved generally perform better academically than those who are not.
On October 16th, 2014 200 students, faculty, staff, and guests attended the 2014 Latino Heritage Banquet hosted by the Student Center for Community Engagement and Inclusion. See Photos of the event. The evening included a special performance in tribute to Selena, the Queen of Tejano. UTSA students Alex Flores and Katrina Cantú sang a beautiful medley rendition ofseveral of Selena's hits.
After, students enjoyed dinner and a keynote address by Poet and Houston-area Educator Lupe Méndez. Mr. Méndez spoke to students about the importance of being involved as students and how the larger Latino demographic depends extensively on the efforts of younger people, millennials in particular. Mr. Mendez also performed a few of his poetry pieces involving his experiences as a teacher, the impacts of culture, and education among young Latinos in the U.S.
The Banquet was planned and led by a group of dedicated UTSA students who collaborated over the course of 6 months for a successful 2014 Latino Heritage Banquet. A special thanks is given to the following students for their dedication and vision: Berenice Jaramillo, Susana Mancera, Ruben Tostado, Teresa Reyes, Christine Velásquez, Paula Celis, Andrea Bocanegra, Amber Peña, Myrna Rangel, and Julie Diaz with the guidance of Erika Garcia, Graduate Assistant in the Student Center for Community Engagement and Inclusion.
This year, the Student Center for Community Engagement and Inclusion received the largest ever number of nominations for the Leadership Award with a total of 26. Nine (9) of those nominations were for Julie Diaz submitted by faculty, staff, and peers. Julie is a Senior and a Communications major. She has been named to Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges, is a mentor with the Black Student Union Mentor Program, is a McNair Scholar, has held leadership roles with the Multicultural Greek Council, and with Kappa Delta Chi Sorority Incorporated. She is also a NASPA Undergraduate Fellow, and serves on the Diplomás Collegiate Leadership Council. In addition, she has also engaged in over 200 hours of service to the community over the past two years.
When talking about her motivations, Julie stated,
"Coming to UTSA as a first generation college student I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but today I am truly blessed to be a Roadrunner… I am proud of the woman I am becoming because I have no doubt that one day I will make an impact in my community; I am rewriting the history that my ancestors didn't have the opportunity to. I am a proud Mexican American who values the culture and heritage of my family. Most importantly I look up to my ancestors for their struggles to become successful in this country. Education is power. ¡Si se puede!"