Student orgnization profile: ALAS

UMKC’s Association of Latin American Students (ALAS) is a group of students from Peru, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the United States who focus on providing support for Latino students.

“ALAS also provides a base support to the general student body in terms of social, cultural and academic development,” Marissa Garcia, ALAS advisor said.

ALAS plans and hosts various events on campus.

“We hope to instill in the students and UMKC professors a greater awareness [and] commitment to the needs of the Latino community,” Garcia said.

Although Latino students represent fewer than ten percent of all UMKC students, according to the Office of Institutional Research, Assesment and Planning’s fall 2010 Comprehensive Planning Report, they constitute a sizable group.

“The Latino community is bigger than most realize,” Garcia said. “While it may seem that there is a small percentage of Latinos that attend UMKC, there are actually over 800 undergraduate and graduate students.”

Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 is Latino heritage month.

ALAS organizes a celebration for the UMKC community with campus events.

One of ALAS’s most successful events was the Latin American Fiesta last spring.

About 300 students attended the event and danced to Latin music and enjoyed Chipotle.

This year, ALAS is planning more events that interest and entertain students.

“ALAS’s goals for this semester involve working with the Mattie Rhodes center to provide community service opportunities for the members,” Priscila Nunez, president of ALAS, said.

ALAS is a unique organization on campus, Nunez said.

“The most interesting thing about ALAS is its members,” Nunez said. “They are from different nationalities and not only from Latin America, but also from the United States. We all share an interest in other cultures and that is what bonds us together.”

A strong bond is needed for any organization, Garcia said, but some elements of ALAS are unique.

“ALAS stands out from other organizations in that it is inclusive to a variety of Latin cultures, not focused on just one,” Garcia said.

ALAS also helps students take advantage of opportunities.

“ALAS is an opportunity for students to make the most out of their college experience,” Garcia said. “Through ALAS, students can make connections and develop friendships with other students, develop important leadership and communication skills, learn or practice speaking Spanish, celebrate aspects of Latin culture through food, music, dancing, etc., and gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for Latin culture,” Garcia said.

ALAS has eight officers and 12 members. Everyone is invited to be a member of ALAS and join in the Latin American celebrations.

“As UMKC becomes an increasingly diverse institution, the importance for organizations like ALAS to have a presence on campus also increases,” Garcia said.

Upcoming ALAS events:

Café con Pan on the Go, Oct. 5, 6, 7

Exploring SW Blvd, Oct. 8

Latino Professionals Panel Discussion, Oct. 13

ALAS General Body Meeting, Sept. 29, at 5 p.m. in the Plaza Room (2nd floor) of the Administrative Center.

For more information about ALAS, contact President Priscila Nunez at pyn6wc@mail.umkc.edu.

mcmillenk@unews.com

Correction:  The next ALAS General Body Meeting is on Sept. 29, not Oct. 29 as was reported.

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