Diverse identities require diverse resources. In the College of Business, nearly 13 percent of students identify as Hispanic or Latinx, compared to 73 percent of students who identify as white. In an effort to understand the needs of Latinx students and create a welcoming, inclusive environment for them, the College created the Latinx Business Association.
To ensure it created an organization that would benefit Latinx students, the College sent out surveys to all students who identified as Hispanic or Latinx to gauge interest in the club. Positive responses immediately flooded in. Undergraduate Programs Academic Advisor Cody Dozier, who was in charge of helping to cultivate, develop and coordinate the Latinx Business Association, began focus groups to discover what resources Latinx students were missing from the College of Business. Armed with the focus groups’ input and a mission to advocate for Latinx students, Dozier and the club’s inaugural members officially formed the Latinx Business Association in Fall 2018.
When the club kicked off, the main goal was to raise awareness and reach as many students as possible. Within a few months, however, Dozier realized that the club was not reaching the Latinx students that he had hoped to cultivate relationships with. This realization prompted Dozier and the club members to formulate a new plan to succeed.
Dozier, who does not identify as a person of Latin descent but is passionate about creating social justice and inclusion within the College of Business, decided that, in order for the club to successfully meet the needs of Latinx students, the students needed to lead it. Under this new structure, the student leadership team would plan and organize events that they were interested in hosting, and Dozier would assist them as needed with administrative tasks.
For the student leadership team, this opportunity allowed them to hear the voices of their peers and create events that help Latinx students succeed in the College.
In the spring of 2019, now-senior Jasmine Gaxiola received an email inviting her to a Latinx Business Association event. Gaxiola, who identifies as a Latinx woman, had just changed her major to business and hadn’t spent much time in the College of Business. The first time she entered the College, she had the impression that the College lacked diversity. The LBA changed that perspective.
After attending a few LBA meetings, Gaxiola decided to join the club because it provides a safe space to take a break from school and cultivate relationships with students she may not see on a daily basis.
“It was really nice to walk in and to see people that look like you and think the same way as you and just an overall fun place to be,” she said.
Although LBA is a new organization, it aims to create a community within the College of Business where students feel comfortable to share their stories of hardships and discrimination and create change. Dozier believes that for him and the LBA, “even if it’s a small group of ten students who are showing up weekly, it’s worth it to us. Finding those students and retaining those students each week for our meetings and just finding out what they really need out of the College of Business [is key] to supporting them to their graduation and career goals.”
Building a Community of Latinx Students
Gaxiola now serves on the LBA leadership team with several other Latinx students who organize and plan events and provide resources for their fellow students.
LBA has several new initiatives for 2020, including a plan to expand its outreach and enhance its events by inviting more alumni to campus to speak on their experiences and bringing in recruiters who will create presentations specific to Latinx students. For students involved in LBA, it is critical to hear about the successes and challenges of Latinx professionals who have shared the same experiences and hardships. LBA is currently looking for more recruiters and guest speakers who identify as Latinx to provide resources to support its members.
“The biggest thing is we want to do more resume workshops or have recruiters come in for us and create presentations specific for Latinx students,” said Gaxiola. “When we had our faculty panel, we had a great turnout, so I think students want more of that – not just a place where you can go and have fun, but somewhere where there is also an educational and professional aspect.”
With all the growth in the past year, Dozier is inspired by the stories that the students have shared and wants to help them achieve their mission of creating a community.
“For me, it was just really eye-opening because there are struggles, there are things they had to overcome that other students who don’t hold these identities don’t have to face,” he said.
As the LBA continues to grow, Gaxiola, the LBA leadership team and Dozier invite all business majors and minors who identify as Latinx to stop by their next meeting and get to know the Latinx community within the College of Business. Check the club’s website and follow their Instagram account to see updates on virtual meetings and when the club plans to meet in the Fall 2020 semester.