Latino Welcoming Day:

Jason Campos

Several UMass Boston groups said Bienvenidos! to a group of incoming Latino students on Monday July 15. The reception was held in the College of Public and Community Service Plaza in the Wheatley Building.

About thirty students attended the Welcoming Day reception, which was organized and sponsored by the Latino Coalition, Latino Studies, Casa Latina, and College of Public and Community Service (CPCS). The purpose of the reception was to welcome, inform, and answer questions about the scheduling of classes or financial aid, and help relieve some of the anxiety that accompanies entering a university.

After greetings and small introductions on the part of the faculty, Professor Luis Apontes-Pares, a professor of Latino Studies, began the reception with a short explanation of the purpose and importance of Latino Studies. Apontes-Pares emphasized, “Latino Studies are for everyone, not just Latinos. It is not only to teach Latinos about their own culture and history, but to teach others who are not, as well.”

The next speaker was Ismael Ramirez-Soto, dean of CPCS. Ramirez-Soto spoke about the overall value and importance of a college education. He called a university degree a passport to a world of new and exciting things.

Next to speak were two students, Maria Moreno and Maria Luisa Placencia, both members of the Latino Student Organization, better known as Casa Latina. The student center was founded in 1990 to serve and aid in various ways the Latino student population on the UMass Boston campus as well as other groups of various ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

Both students pointed out how Casa Latina can be a tremendous support system, especially to new students. The center networks with other organizations and department on campus to facilitate the transition of new Latino students to university life. Placencia, former assistant coordinator of Casa Latina, spoke about the leadership skills that she gained by being involved with the center. She also took the opportunity to speak to students about becoming members of the Advisory Board.

The Welcoming day concluded in a more relaxed environment with a barbeque of hamburgers and hotdogs at the gazebo on Fox Point Dock. Afterwards, many of the students as a group attended a basketball game in the 2002 Shaw’s Summer Pro League, in which the Boston Celtics faced the New Jersey Nets.