Oregon State University and the College of Science will welcome hundreds of Hispanic students and their families to Mi Familia Weekend, the annual celebration of cultural diversity and student success, on May 10-11, 2019. The bilingual event, hosted by the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in STEM (SACNAS), will feature inspiring guest speakers, workshops and performances that children of all ages can enjoy.
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This year, the theme of the event is extra special because it occurs serendipitously between Mexico’s Dia De Las Madres and Mother’s Day in the United States. The mission statement reads, “inspired by love and sacrifice to create a future of inclusivity and success,” in honor of the sacrifices that underrepresented minority students make to get here.
This year marks the first time Mi Familia Weekend unites with Juntos Family Day to share resources, and provide opportunities for prospective as well as current university students. In the past 12 years, Juntos Family Day has welcomed more than a thousand Spanish-speaking students from around the state to provide culturally relevant information and workshops to help promote student retention. On May 11, Juntos Families will also get to meet and share stories with current OSU students and their parents.
Speaking at this year’s event is OSU alumna Arlyn Moreno Luna, an Honors graduate in BioResource Research, who founded and masterminded the first Mi Familia Weekend in 2012.
Moreno Luna emigrated from Mexico when she was 13 years old and experienced years of difficulty adjusting to a new language and culture. Although her parents had gone to college in Mexico, their experience was very different from the college process in America. While they wanted to be supportive of their daughter’s education, the language and cultural barrier made it difficult for them to attend events catered to English-speaking families.
“I know what it is like to come from a background where no one in your family has gone to college. I want minority students to feel like they belong here at OSU and are supported.”
At a Hispanic leadership conference in Portland, Moreno Luna realized that this experience was shared by many Latino students around the country. For the next year, she devoted herself to starting a new program that would help families like her own feel welcome and able to participate in their children’s education.
These fundamentals of the Mi Familia Weekend platform are still shared widely by its coordinators today.
“I took on this job because I know what it is like to come from a background where no one in your family has gone to college,” explains event co-coordinator Cindy Zurita Cruz, a student in the College of Agricultural Science. “You have no guidance and are often lost. I want minority students to feel like they belong here at OSU and are supported by the university.”
This year’s keynote speaker is Maria Teresa Chavez-Haroldson, a social justice advocate and renowned leader in equity, diversity, and inclusivity in corporate and government practices. Other speakers include Ana Warren, a Senior Spanish Instructor at OSU; graduate student Nancy Vargas; and a SACNAS representative.
The workshops at both events include information for students and parents on college life, career workshops, financial aid, and how to apply for college as a DACA student. The weekend features music and festivities, visits from Benny the Beaver, photo opportunities and a variety of Latin food for Mi Familia Weekend attendees.
Ultimately, the events are designed to deepen the sense of community for the nearly 3,000 OSU students of Hispanic heritage and their families.
“We can bring families of underrepresented communities to our campus so that they can see themselves in us,” explains Rosio Lopez Arrellano, an event coordinator who is graduating this spring from the College of Science. “Through this event, we can show that we are not alone and we can be successful – not just alone but as a community.”