The Latino Student Organization (LSO) and the Multicultural Student Association (MSA) kicked off the events of the ¡Pa’lante! Summit on Friday, March 18, which carried through Sunday, March 20.
The summit’s theme this year was “Together We Rise,” focusing on supporting and uplifting each other. “Elevating each other is a really big part of what we are doing today,” Kasey Eras, LSO vice president, explained.
The theme of the event was chosen to represent what the Latino community is currently facing in the social climate on and off campus, according to Brenda Aristy, the LSO adviser. This year marks 32 years of the LSO as an active organization on the Shippensburg University campus. “A lot of hard work goes into organizing it [the summit], but it is definitely worth it,” Aristy said.
Friday’s keynote speaker, Giovanni Negron-Garcia, opened the event by sharing his experiences and explained to the attendees how he advocates for the large Latino and Hispanic communities in the areas surrounding him. Friday night, attendees were also invited to attend the Heritage Dance Co.’s “Freaky Friday” showing in the Memorial Auditorium.
The event resumed on Saturday with a series of speeches and discussions. The keynote speaker on Saturday was Norman Bristol Colón, the Chief Diversity Officer for the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
Colón shared anecdotes with attendees, some from childhood living in Puerto Rico and some from his different experiences in government.
“I have a strong agenda to raise a new generation of latino leaders,” Colón said. Through his speech, he heavily emphasized the importance of supporting each other within the community.
“Please do me a favor — graduate, and then pay it forward,” Colón urged the students at the end of his speech.
Following Colón’s address, attendees went to their first session of workshops titled, “You Are Not Alone.” They chose between two discussion groups — “Unity in the Community: Latino is all I want to be” led by Juan Zabala or “Anything but Latino” led by Brenda Aristy.
In Zabala’s workshop, the group discussed what being Latino means to them. The workshop also covered topics like feeling in between cultures, learning English as a second language and the different experiences each participant had regarding their hair in school and workplaces.
In Aristy’s workshop, the group held a dialogue about the different stereotypes that they had faced on the SU campus. The discussion also covered stereotypes that the students had experienced regarding speech patterns as well as the struggle of stereotyping often being the only means of representation.
The second session of workshops was titled, “Taking Our Place.” Attendees gathered together again to listen to a panel of students and alumni involved in Greek life at Shippensburg. The panel emphasized the impact that Greek life had in each of their lives.
“You are continually evolving and growing, you are never the same person,” Elizabeth Parra, an SU alumna, said. Before Saturday’s events came to a close, certificates of appreciation were awarded to each of the presenters.
On Sunday the ¡Pa’lante! Summit closed with a fellowship service led by Elder Luis Abrahante at the Spiritual Center. To learn more about LSO or MSA, visit ship.edu/about/offices/msa.