Latino Role Models Day 2015

Latino ROle Models Day for 2015 with students in Hale Hall

LASER’s Latino Role Models Day 2015 offered nearly 150 Latino high school students the chance to hear from undergraduate and graduate students and community members from a wide-range of occupations as well as faculty from The Ohio State University, Otterbein University, and Columbus State Community College. Throughout the day, visiting students had small group sessions with roles models, took a tour of the Ohio State campus, and listened to keynote speaker, Paloma Martinez-Cruz, an assistant professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, speak about how she has forged her own path as a Latino college student and now, as a college professor.

 Professor Martinez-Cruz speaks at 2015 Latino Role Models Day

“Professionally I was honored to be part of it. And personally, as a mother, it was a success because my oldest son, Brandon, loved the campus so much he wants to go to Ohio State instead after talking and visiting other colleges,” said Darsy Amaya, who participated as a Latina Role Model.

Besides Professor Martinez-Cruz, one of the highlights for the high school students was a panel of current Ohio State Latino undergraduate students who came from similar situations, backgrounds, and experiences. The panelists were asked about being a first-generation student – many students participating in Latino Role Models Day will be the first in their family to attend college – and what challenges that might present. Students also asked about community colleges, being admitted as a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) student – and what were panelist’s favorite foods from their cultures.

Latino Role Models Day for 2015 panel

The panelists stated that attending college was demanding – but rewarding – work. Having come this far, attendees were told they could still go farther; each only had to decide if he or she wanted to work hard enough to go to college and receive a degree that can open the door to many possibilities. Gabriela Ivoska, who teaches at Whitehall Yearling High School, said that her students loved Latino Role Models Day for just that reason: it opened their eyes to the many different opportunities that are available to them. In addition to Whitehall Yearling, other high schools that participated included West High School, Westland High School, St. Frances DeSales High School, Centennial High School as well as students from other schools that came on their own including Pataskala, Reynoldsburg, Hilliard, and Columbus International.

 Frederick Aldama with Role Models Day participants

“Latino Role Models Day is possible because of the many supporters from the campus and the community. Our partners at Cardinal Health were with us when we initially conceived the event, and thanks to the generous support from the College of Dentistry and the Multicultural Center, the program has continued to thrive,” said Professor Frederick Aldama, founder and director of LASER.

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion will once again host the event in the spring of 2016.