ODI’s LASER has much to celebrate!

Frederick Aldama wirh LRMD attendees

2018 - 2019 academic year in review

It was recently announced that two of our LASER Hub Coordinators, Mark Hoff (LASER Hub at Centennial) and Jacinta Yanders (LASER Hub Coordinator at Worthington) are winners of one of the university’s most coveted awards: the Graduate Assistant Teaching Award. They were two of eleven graduate student teaching assistants (out of 3,000 graduate students at The Ohio State University) to be recognized at this highest level.

Along with this great news, Laura Fernández (LASER Hub at Beechcroft) won a Spanish and Portuguese Department Conference Attendance Award to present her paper, “Birds of a Feather Samba Together: The Perpetuation of Brazilian Stereotypes in Animated Films” at the Latin American Studies Association conference in Boston.  Katlin Sweeny (LASER Hub at DeSales) won several travel awards, including NACCS’s 2019 Chicana Caucus Student Conference Scholarship. Danielle Orozco (LASER Hub at DeSales) is excited to see her chapter “Laura Kinney as X-treme Niña: Monstrosity and Citizenship in Marvel’s Logan” appear in Latinx Ciné in the Twenty-First Century. Carlos Kelly (LASER Executive Coordinator and Hub Coordinator at South) also has a co-authored chapter, “The Good, Bad, and the Messy: Michael Peña’s Browning of the Twenty-First-Century Silver Screen” appearing in the same volume. And Carlos celebrates the publication of his first book of poetry, Wounds Fragments Derelict (2Leaf with University of Chicago Press) with a book launch and signing at the Wexner Center for the Arts on April 25th. Stacey Alex (LASER Hub at Beechcroft) is excited to join the faculty as an Assistant Professor at Morning Side College in Sioux City, Iowa. Ryan Vogel (LASER Program Assistant and Floating Hub Coordinator) was selected as a 2018-2019 Society of American Foresters Diversity Ambassador, received an Architecture Research Travel Grant to travel to Belize as well as an American Planning Association's Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy fellowship, and recently published an article in the Forestry Source. Elena Costello LASER & IMPACT Mentor) recently completed her candidacy exams, presented at the National Symposium Spanish as Heritage Language and North Carolina State University Department of Foreign Languages as well as co-founded the National Organization SCiLS: Scholars of Color in Language Studies. De’Chelle Buckhalter (Laser Mentor) will be studying in Spain this May. And Maria Camila Fredericks (LASER mentor) won a Fulbright grant to teach English at a university in Tunja, Colombia and will be graduating this May with an Honors degree in an Environmental Policy.

With the exhaustive work of Carlos Kelly and Team LASER, we pulled off yet another extraordinary series of signature events. In the fall we hosted our largest ever SÕLCON: Brown & Black Expo. And, this spring Latinx Role Models Day made headline news with Amber Javier’s article in The Lantern, featuring interviews with Yuri Arteaga (LASER Hub at Columbus Global Academy) and De’Chelle Buckhalter—one of three Gammas who performed an extraordinary acapella and step routine. Our many community role models gifted their time and wisdom with this year’s Latinx high schoolers—as well as4th graders. And, Danielle Orozco delivered a beautifully crafted, heartfelt speech about her journey as a Latina overcoming the odds and clearing pathways to college and graduate school. With over 400 people (350 of them high school students) in attendance, Latinx Role Models Day continues to be a powerful gesture towards realizing dreams of a college education. Here are some of the responses from LRMD 2019:

“LRMD was really fun, I enjoyed it. I liked how we got to talk to the role models or professionals in small groups and how they rotated. I got to talk to an artist, businessmen, a future immigration attorney, OSU students and others. I wish we could've spent more time seeing the entire Wexner Center for the Arts. It was inspirational”—Elizabeth Peña Dominguez

“I like the fact that there was many students there.  Even fourth graders! Over all it was fun.  I was also glad that Dr. Aldama was there”—Yaretzi Leos Dominguez

“I liked how easily everything flowed from how the presentations where setup to where we got to interact with them and they interacted with us. Gathered in small groups we had the chance to talk to professionals of our choice”—Areli Trinidad-Navarro

“I  learned so many new things about OSU. The excellent organization of the event allowed us to ask any questions we had to the Role Models. They did a great job in responding.  I learned so much and it was fun”—Esmeralda Sierra

“I liked everything about LRMD. The way it was organized: everything had an easy flow and we had the opportunity to network with the Role Models. I talked to Diana Lopez, Carlos from Columbus Crew, Jesus from Nationwide, and German from Nationwide”—Yagzire Castaneda

“LRMD was a really cool experience! I was pleasantly surprised. I thought LRMD would be more of a just sit-and-listen, but it was super interactive. I especially enjoyed talking to the Role Models as well as talking to the admissions councilor. I was to able learn from OSU undergraduate and graduate students. The campus tour was incredible. It was a spectacular day!”– Laura Ornelas Rodriguez

Our LASER Hub Coordinators helped guide dozens of Latinx high school students through the college application process with a 100% acceptance rate. And for the first time in LASER history, 16 of these students will be attending OSU this fall—with six as Maximus or Morrill Scholars. With equal exuberance, we celebrate those LASER scholars who will be joining Columbus State, Otterbein, Dayton University, Ohio University, University of Toledo, and Cincinnati of University. And, while Isabel Gil (awarded a Maximus Scholarship to attend Ohio State) decided to matriculate at Miami University, she’s promised us that she’ll return to Ohio State for Veterinary school.

Some of our Morrill Scholar awardees shared a little about their journey and decision to join us at OSU this fall. Isaias Manríquez mentions how he realized as a rising 9th grader that education would be his “way out.” With an Anglo mom in jail and his Mexican dad from Guadalajara working all his life in heavy construction, Isaias joined Metro MIT school where he found himself surrounded by students who cared about and were invested in learning. Isaias found out about LASER at its yearly event, Latinx Role Models Day, as well as attended LASER’s co-sponsored Humanities and Cognitive Sciences High School Summer Institute. He states how it was “during this week-long program that I learned first-hand how the research in the cognitive sciences can shed light on how we create and co-create as human beings in ways that transform the world we live in.” After working hard on his application this fall with LASER mentors, Isaias was surprised when he received his acceptance to Ohio State. He remembers thinking, “I can’t believe my eyes, when I opened the email stating that I had been accepted.” He further states how a few weeks later “I was even more shocked when I was notified that I was awarded a Morrill Scholarship.” As a twelve-year-old, Elizabeth Peña moved from Oaxaca, Mexico, to Columbus where she felt lost and out of place. She mentions how once in high school she was invited into the LASER family, finding sure footing and guidance to college. “I chose OSU because of all the great opportunities they offer and its diverse community” she states. As a speaker of the indigenous language, Chatino, she wants to pursue a degree in Linguistics. Yaretzi Leos, who is originally from Mexico and DACA, was accepted to a handful of other excellent universities, but she decided to join us at Ohio State largely because of her positive experience with the LASER and IMPACT community of Ohio State mentors. She credits her “amazing mentor” Rachael Kusak with helping her get through the complex FAFSA and college application process.  For Yaretzi it’s always been her “dream” to attend Ohio State where she can study all sorts of subjects. Moreover, she will be with us in the fall because Ohio State has made her feel welcome “like at home.”