Hispanic Notre Dame Alumni Panelists Encourage Students: “You Belong Here” | News | Notre-Dame news

Members of the Hispanic Alumni of Notre Dame (HAND), an affinity group of the University of Notre Dame Alumni Association, came together virtually Tuesday, September 21 for the second annual panel of success stories from former Hispanics. The event is one of many organized by the Institute for Latino Studies to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month.

In the opening speech, Luis Fraga, professor of political science Joseph and Elizabeth Robbie and director of the Institute for Latino Studies, welcomed the participants. “We are delighted to collaborate and support the Hispanic alumni of Notre Dame in their efforts to share their life experiences and professional expertise,” he said.

Cristina Gonzalez, lawyer and HAND board member, opened the discussion by highlighting how the alumni group supports its members. “We represent all of you, the Hispanic alumni of Notre Dame, and stand up for your interests,” she said. “We stand up not only for students, but also for professors and alumni; it is our job. And there are a lot of different things we do to encourage community and participation.

Alex Montoya, public relations account manager and writer, kicked off the panel discussion. “I was born in Colombia and immigrated to the United States when I was 4 years old. I was born with a disability and my parents sent me to this country to live with my family for better. opportunities.”

Since college, Montoya had his sights set on the University of Notre Dame. “When I was accepted, I didn’t even want to consider another place,” Montoya said. “I worked in professional sport. I have worked for non-profit organizations. I have worked for professional organizations. But the wonderful thing is that no matter what different fields I have moved into or jumped into, my Communication Degree from Notre Dame has been helpful in each of these areas and in each of them. these jobs.

Timi Aguilar, President and CEO of Aguilar Public Relations, said her experience as a student in the film department has helped her achieve career success.

“Everything I did was community driven, and I made a film for the homeless center and I did something for the Center for Social Concerns,” Aguilar said. “Which then launched me as a video producer doing industrial projects for AT&T, then from there to traveling the world as an executive producer. “

Elizabeth Bodamer, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy and Research Analyst and Senior Program Manager at the Law School Admission Council, spoke about her experience with the ILS. “ILS is where I really got to be surrounded by all things Latinx, the history, the people, the diversity in the community across the country.”

She credited her experience to Notre Dame for bringing her to her current role. “Today I can do diversity, equity and inclusion work focused on our communities, our underserved and marginalized communities, to make a difference, and it all started because I went to Our- Lady.”

Bodamer added, “My biggest takeaway for students today is to really immerse yourself. You know, you will have your homesick moments, you will have your moments of doubt, but there are good people around you. We’ve been there and you can do it. You belong here. “

Dr Kristine Muñoz Glass, a Navy veteran and psychiatrist serving the veteran population in El Paso, Texas, and Las Cruces, New Mexico, said that while her experience at Notre Dame was one of the best of her life, she wanted to address the struggles human beings face as they head for higher education.

“My father fell ill and passed away before my senior year,” said Muñoz Glass. “I talk about it because it was a very big point in my life obviously for the direction I have taken, but also for the community that I have developed.”

She went on to say that her stay at Notre Dame was both beautiful and very hard. “There will be speed bumps along the road for a dream, but always go on, always push. Do not abandon.

For the question-and-answer portion, Paloma Garcia-Lopez, Associate Director of ILS, asked panelists about experiences with faculty and staff that made the campus feel right at home.

“What made me feel at home – and this is something I certainly urge every student to do – was the faculty and administrators who agreed to sign on as mentors,” Montoya said. “Everyone should definitely be looking for a mentor. “

Bodamer agreed. “There are so many opportunities, so many ways the institution tries to be that facilitator between you and a potential mentor. Enjoy it. “

Garcia-Lopez closed the discussion by asking the panelists to give students advice on how to decide what to do after college.

“I’m a big fan of networking,” Aguilar said. “Go to your alumni clubs, start talking to the people in the room. Alumni are great at connecting people. It’s really about showing off and looking at what’s available.

In conclusion, Fraga said: “The Institute for Latino Studies, for everyone in the audience and certainly for our panelists, is here at the University to work with you, to help you.”

The Institute for Latino Studies has a number of events planned to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month. For more information, visit https://latinostudies.nd.edu/news-events/hispanic-heritage-month/.

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