Culture shock

Latino students find a community at the Center for Latin@ studies

Some Latin@ students at Ferris find it difficult to set aside time to celebrate their culture and diversity while also maintaining their college schedule.

The Center for Latin@ Studies is a Ferris student organization that encourages Latino students to celebrate their diversity and culture in everyday life. The center’s website states that they work to get students to and through college by building on the strengths of the students’ culture and identity.

Ferris elementary education freshman Mariana Marin knows firsthand how the center helps students find a community and it encouraged her to not give up on her education.

“My senior year of high school, I got pregnant. So, I had my doubts about whether I would go to college or not,” Marin said. “But I always tried to stay positive. Even though I knew it was going to be hard, I always wanted to go to college and finish my education. When I first came to Ferris, for some reason I felt like I was the only Hispanic person here.”

According to Marin, someone approached her while she was at the University Center and offered her information for a meeting about Hispanic student organizations. Marin followed up and now has been a part of the center for a month.

“I was a stay-at-home mom, just stressing out. When I started coming to the center and meeting more people, I found help here. I feel really good now,” Marin said. “At some point I just couldn’t do it, you know? By myself. I thought I just wasn’t going to finish college. But I found many people here that have been helping me through a lot.”

Ferris digital animation and game design junior Dakota Lynch first found the center while looking for a job. The community at the center and gathering of people with similar cultures to him is what ultimately led Lynch to apply for the job.

“It’s really nice to know that there is a spot for me to hang out and have fun with people who have similar backgrounds and similar stories. I feel at home there. I’ve only been working there a few months, but I feel like they just get me,” Lynch said. “Before I came here, I felt really alienated and I didn’t know what it was. Now that I’m here and I’m around people that are kind of like me and have similar backgrounds, it feels comforting and warm.”

The center, located in IRC 131, is open until 9 p.m. every night. If students just want a place to study in, they can also look to the center, as it is one of the flex-tutoring sites across Ferris’s campus. According to Center for Latin@ Studies Executive Director Kaylee Moreno, this is to encourage students to come to the center whenever they need to connect with their culture.

“It’s a space where students can find someone that looks like them, that has some of the same backgrounds as them,” Moreno said. “There is a chance for students to explore the diversity within the community, but there’s also a chance for them to feel a sense of connectedness to their hometowns and to their culture.”