By Stacy Galanis
LASO members at recent Family Fest event
LASO, short for Latin American Student Organization, is a club at Aurora University that highlights the Latino and Hispanic students that are within the AU Family. Though the club focuses on the AU Latin American community, this organization is not limited to Latinos and Hispanics. Sophomore LASO member, Jose Chavez said. “[Though] LASO stands for Latin American Student Organization, it really is open to all cultures and backgrounds,” Chavez said. “Everyone in LASO is very welcoming and it’s a great organization that helps individuals build leadership skills.”
LASO’s organization representative, Ignacio “Nacho” Cervantes, agrees and said that there are many non-Hispanic, non-Latino and many members that come from other backgrounds in LASO. “You do not have to be Latino to join or [to be able to] speak Spanish,” he said. “Everyone in school can join [and] we welcome everybody.”
Recently, LASO held a Family Fest that treated the families’ of LASO members to dinner and a show, according to Cervantes. The organization is planning to host many other events in the following months of this year. “We have [events such as] the Day of the Dead, and [we] host LASO’s end of the year banquet where we honor the Latino student’s and LASO students who will be graduating,” he said.
Though LASO has their plates full with their future events, the main goal for the organization is to welcome and involve many AU first year students and families, according to LASO faculty advisor, Eva Serrano. “For some, LASO represents a ‘familia’ environment on campus that gives them a sense of belonging in a large academic environment. Some students who transfer from Latino-majority high schools find themselves on a predominately- white campus for the first time in their lives, so LASO helps them with the transition,” she said.
Chavez agrees, adding that LASO is important to Aurora University because it allows Latino Students to stay linked to their culture and heritage.
LASO hopes that its members as well as non-members see all the great things that the organization stands for. “This club is here to help [students] succeed and help out the community while having fun,” Cervantes said. “[Members should] be proud of an organization like this one because we care about what we do. When someone hears ‘LASO,’ we want them to keep saying ‘they are great kids and do a lot for the community.’”
Serrano agrees and said she is proud to be a part of this great group. “My work with LASO is a gift to me because I am inspired by the youth who get involved, share their stories, reveal their creativity and enthusiasm, and ask for help,” she said. “Collectively we build a ‘lasso’ that might help students stay in school in and graduate with their college degrees.”