KOKOMO, Ind. – As the first in her family to attend college, Paulina Lytle recalls the struggles she faced during her freshman year – learning to navigate financial aid, registration, orientation, and other parts of college life.
Now a senior, she’s a founding member of Indiana University Kokomo’s Latinx Student Association, with the goal of sharing their culture and supporting first-generation college students.
“I had to figure out everything on my own, with no resources at home to help and no idea how to find the information I needed,” said Lytle, from Logansport. “We can provide that help for new students.”
Gabriela Mora, president, describes the group as filling a void for Latinx students, while providing a welcoming environment for any student.
“We need a safe place for all Latinx students where we can feel accepted, understood, and welcomed,” she said. “We also hope that everyone on campus who doesn’t feel like they have something they belong to will become part of our association. We want to help students achieve their goals and spread knowledge about our culture.”
They’re motivated to support first-generation college students because many Latinx students, including all five association officers, fall in that category, and understand the challenges they face.
“There’s a lack of knowledge from our family members, and lack of a support system at home,” said Mora, a senior. “We would like to be a resource from them, and share what we have learned from our experiences.”
The group also wants to have fun while sharing their culture, through events like a Festival Latino, featuring traditional music, food, and clothing, during Hispanic Heritage Month, which is September 15 to October 15.
“The Latinx Student Association will allow us to bring awareness and knowledge of our culture and traditions to our campus,” said Mora. “It also adds diversity, inclusivity, and equity, which will enrich and strengthen our beautiful campus.”
Additional officers include Jacqueline Rodriguez, treasurer, West Lafayette; Cristina Esquivel, operations coordinator, Noblesville; and Adrian Gazcon, marketing, Logansport.
Indiana University Kokomo celebrates 75 years as north central Indiana’s choice for higher education.