In the mid-2010s, the Hispanic community was one of the fastest-growing in the United States. Yet the numbers didn’t equal strength.
“There was a palpable sense of invisibility, disconnectedness, and marginalization due to the tone of discourse in the U.S.,” says Anita I. Martínez, ’99, chair of the U-M Latino Alumni (UMLA). Though the U.S. Census projects that the Hispanic population will grow to represent one-third of the total U.S. population by 2050, they continue to remain underrepresented, under-employed, and disproportionately represented in service industries.
In response to these concerns, Alumni Association board member Ignacio Salazar, MSW’72, led a revival of the Hispanic Alumni Council. He was an original member of the group, formed by U-M alumni and active in the 1970s and 1980s. The group became a chartered affiliate of the Alumni Association in 1988 and rebranded as the UMLA in 2016.
“It is an economic imperative that UMLA work to create a network and family of support for current and graduated students,” Martínez says. “We’re organizing UMLA to help cultivate and create positive opportunities to network and connect peers.”
Relaunching the Program
Though the pandemic had its impact on the UMLA, work is pushing forward to organize and present opportunities for involvement. The group is still recruiting board members, having recently welcomed Reuben Kapp, ’12, MA’18, and Susana Olague Trapani, ’00. Members also have opportunities to join various UMLA committees, including Cultural & Social and Student Recruitment & Retention. In fact, UMLA has collaborated with the U-M Wolverine Pathways (a college readiness program) to assist with undergrad recruitment.
UMLA will also once again hold its Alumni Tailgate on Sept. 25, 2021, at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor.
UMLA relaunched its quarterly newsletter in August. It features alumni spotlights, cultural and social event highlights, links to job postings, calls to action, and fast facts about the impact of Latinos in the U.S. As COVID-19 becomes endemic, UMLA will work to engage alumni with remote and in-person events.