KOKOMO, Ind. – ¡Bienvenido a Indiana University Kokomo!
The campus provides a friendly atmosphere, celebrates the culture, and assists Latino students with the unique challenges they face, with the addition of Latinos Unidos Hispanic Center.
“We want to create a sense of belonging and connection with the Latino community on our campus,” said J.R. Pico, senior lecturer in Spanish, who will serve as the center’s director.
“We want them to feel welcomed and respected in our university, and to provide resources for them, promote their culture and language, and help them overcome any barriers to earning a degree.”
The center initially will be housed in Pico’s office, Main Building Room 178 B, until a permanent location is ready.
“Our goal is to create a sense of community,” Pico said.
Family is an important part of Hispanic culture, and it’s important that the center also welcomes students’ parents, who are likely to be involved in their education, and whose well-being impacts their success.
Christine Taff, senior lecturer in Spanish and associate director, said they can connect students and their families to people who can assist with immigration and discrimination or racism issues, and provide materials in Spanish as needed.
That family connection is crucial as students consider their higher education options, and the center will play a role during Visit in Person days as well.
“When students are choosing their college, the families are very involved,” said Taff. “We can be a place they can go for information, where there will be someone who speaks Spanish. The parents may not know much about the U.S. university system.
“We can also create a sense of comfort for the parents, because they will see for themselves that their children will be welcomed here.”
While the name is Latinos Unidos, students of all backgrounds are encouraged to visit. Pico anticipates the relaunched Spanish club and the Latinx Student Organization will be based out of the center, and Spanish language tutors will be available.
Paola Cubides, a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) student, looks forward to improving her English skills while providing tutoring in Spanish at the center.
“It gives the native Spanish speaking student an opportunity to help another student who wants to improve their Spanish skills,” she said. “Because I am still learning English, it gives me the chance to grow my knowledge in the language. It will improve confidence on both sides, so it’s a win-win.”
It will also be a place to learn about Hispanic culture, with plans in the works for guest speakers, movie nights, and other cultural events.
“The whole idea is to bring more of the Latino culture to campus, to share with everybody,” Taff said.
Indiana University Kokomo celebrates 75 years as north central Indiana’s choice for higher education.