Hispanic Alliance connects faculty, students

University of Miami faculty and staff came out to inaugurate the Hispanic Alliance, a new student organization, on Oct. 11. The event symbolically took place in Casa Bacardi, which houses the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies.

The Alliance’s mission is to bring Hispanic members of the UM community together through one channel where students, faculty and staff from all campuses may network.

HA’s board members first met over the summer to begin planning the organization’s arrival on campus. The board members chose a name, logo and selected two presidents and a treasurer.

“We know students have an interest in networking with faculty,” said Cristina Florez, one of the co-presidents of HA. Florez also works as the assistant director of the International Studies department and is the advisor for both the Committee On International Students and Organizations and Model United Nations student organizations.

Roberto Castro, HA’s second co-president, hopes that through Hispanic Alliance events faculty and staff will be able to meet with and mentor students.

“We want to give people the opportunity to give back to the university,” Castro said.

Florez and Castro introduced the organization during the inauguration by calling it una familia, or “a family.”

At the event, Elena Sabogal, senior research associate for the Center for Latin American Studies, spoke about the origins of the term “Hispanic” and the importance of UM’s Hispanics coming together. During her remarks, she asked for Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Central and South Americans to raise their hands. Most hands were raised when Sabogal called upon those of Cuban ethnicity.

“The beauty of UM is that there is a diverse culture,” Sabogal said. “The Hispanic Alliance gives us the opportunity to focus on our commonalities.”

Castro and Florez also announced three other projects they hope HA will accomplish.

For one program, the volunteering faculty mentors will reach out to Hispanic students who receive academic alerts. This outreach program would work with students to find the particular causes preventing them from doing well in school and resolving those issues.

Castro feels Sabogal will be the right person to spearhead the program because of her experience in research, which will allow for proper evaluation of each student’s circumstances.

The Hispanic Alliance will also notify members of scholarships and fellowships available for Hispanic students as well as create new scholarships to fund smaller expenses, such as textbooks and parking permits.

Similarly, outstanding Hispanic students and faculty will be recognized through HA, with awards for both academic and extracurricular performances.

With these plans in mind, Castro summed up the hopes of the organization.

“I think that at the end of the day we become the resource we want to be for our students,” Castro said.

About 40 people attended the event including faculty and staff from the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and the Miller School of Medicine. Students from different student organizations such as the Federaci