Latine Unidos: Celebrating Latine Culture Year Long

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From developing events to honor Latine Heritage month to producing a cookbook and offering safe spaces in which the students can have important conversations about current issues, Dominican’s Latine Unidos (LU) club is reinventing itself this year to offer support, education, and community to its fast-growing membership.

Brittany Santos ’22, the club’s media manager, says finding community was what drew her to the club last year as a junior transfer student from Santa Rosa Junior College. Brittany joined LU in spring 2020, only a few weeks before the Dominican campus shifted to remote teaching due to the pandemic. The group of about 10 students were determined to remain connected.

“It was nice to have met everyone and had that opportunity to connect in person,” Brittany recalls. “Zoom helped us keep in touch and we did our best to keep a club feel during our meetings with virtual games and an online carnival.”

The group remained in touch throughout the summer, meeting virtually to plan the coming year, relying on Google docs to share information and develop a colander of events. Sofia Esteva ’23 is the club’s president.

LU held its first in-person meeting of the year just a few days after the fall 2021 semester began. Membership grew from 10 to 25 students at that first meeting.

 “We were not expecting a lot of people would come to this meeting, but we noticed right away that our group had grown,” Brittany says. “Right after the meeting we had a board discussion – and we all agreed that we needed a much bigger space.”

The club already has heard from more students eager to get involved.

“It is so nice to be back on campus and have a space to meet again as a club,” Brittany says. “The students are so open and so excited to be here.”

During the summer planning sessions, the LU board decided it wanted to move away from primarily offering social events to also advocating for members and tackling the issues that students are facing today.

“We decided that it was really important to highlight mental health and taking care of each other. We wanted to create a space for Latines on campus to hold conversations that may be hard to discuss outside in our individual communities and households.”

These conversations include ICE raids, support for LGBTQI members, and ways to break down stereotypes that exist about Latine households and communities.  Upcoming events also include a discussion about Feminist movements around Latin America, a watercolor pa8inting and mental health night, and an event titled “What’s Cooking?” at which the members will plan an LU cookbook.

When planning events to celebrate Hispanic/Latine Heritage Month, the club agreed that they also wanted to connect LU with the greater community. Connecting with the local community is particularly important for Brittany, who graduated from nearby Terra Linda High School and had long aspired to attend Dominican to study graphic design. It’s a family thing. Brittany’s sister, Milady Lopez, graduated from Dominican in 2018 with a degree in graphic design and now works as a designer for the national cosmetic company Juice Beauty, which is headquartered in San Rafael.

“I feel it is important that our club members get to know people around campus with similar interests and also get to know people in our community that they can identify with.”

To see what’s happening at LU, follow their Instagram at @latine_unidos.

Photo above of Brittany Santos ’22 (right) and Sofia Esteva ’23 of Dominican’s Latine Unidos club.

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