Last week kicked off the national observance of Hispanic Heritage Month. Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins annually on Sept. 15 (the anniversary of independence for certain Latin American countries), seeks to celebrate the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens who have descended from Latino/a cultures.

In light of the national observance, Concordia is celebrating its Latino/a student population. This year, for the first time in university history, students have come together to charter a Latino Student Union (LSU). The goal of the group is multifaceted, says CUW Outreach Specialist Ana Sanchez, who is the staff advisor for the group.

Ultimately, LSU aims to unite the Latino/a community on campus by building a sense of belonging. The group will also strive to:

  • Provide a safety net to ensure a culturally responsive atmosphere
  • Strengthen the academic and behavioral success of all students
  • Retain student status
  • Educate the university regarding the Latino community
  • Function as an educational and cultural learning instrument for all students
  • Encourage collaboration by working with multiple organizations across campus
  • Provide networking and career development opportunities for all members

“We have seen an increase in Latino/a enrollment at Concordia, so it’s important that we cultivate an environment at CUW that represents this ever-growing minority group,” says Sanchez. “By having representation on campus we are helping student success. We can serve students more holistically by understanding their academic needs in a safe and familiar environment where they can have cultural expression.”

Related: 7 ways to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

Meet a few of Concordia’s LSU members

Giselle Torres

Intended grad year: 2024

Major: Social Work

Hometown: Horicon, Wisconsin

What do you want people to know about LSU?

We’re building it from the ground up so we’re still figuring some things out, but I feel like it’s a way for the Latino community to have a sense of belonging. I feel like not that many of us have come to know each other yet and this is a way to celebrate our heritage around campus.”

Maria Del Carmen Betancourt

Intended grad year: 2026

Major: Accounting

Hometown: Miami, Florida

What is a way that you honor your heritage?

At my old high school we would have a show where students would get up and do like a salsa or reggaeton dance routine. People loved it. This club (at CUW) is fresh, but as we develop the club further I’d love to eventually host something like that!

David Blas

Intended grad year: 2024

Major: Exercise Physiology 

Hometown: Sheboygan, Wisconsin 

Why did you want to be a part of LSU?

I wanted to be a part of LSU to meet many people from different backgrounds and learn from their cultures. 

Zadeiah Juarez

Intended grad year: 2023

Major: Psychology with a social work minor 

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

Why is LSU important?

LSU is important because there’s less than 6% of students who identify as Latino/Hispanic at CUW. By joining this club it allows members to feel a sense of community and pride in the person they are, despite having that little representation. I hope for this club to be there for current and future students to provide that sense of belonging well into the future.