Senior Itzel Velazquez studies political science and international studies and enjoys making a positive impact on the community.
Velazquez is a member of the Faulkner County Chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens. LULAC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the advancement of Latin Americans in the United States.
The LULAC chapter in Faulkner County was started last school year and is operated primarily by students from UCA, Hendrix and Central Baptist College.
So far there have been challenges with starting a new chapter.
“It is hard to communicate with the Hispanic community here, not with our language barrier, but it’s just hard gaining their trust,” Velazquez said. “A lot of times in the Hispanic community it’s about someone telling someone about events. They don’t use their emails as much and there’s not that many places to reach them at. We’ve been using the churches and the schools. We have really good events and really want them to come, but we know it is hard for them.”
The main objective of the chapter is teaching middle school and high school students about the college process and the main goal is to give scholarships, Velazquez said.
In the process of rewarding scholarships LULAC looks for students that have been involved, and not just in academics, Velazquez said.
Outside of helping students with the college process, LULAC members take on the responsibility of setting the tone for the community.
“We think of ourselves as a mentorship group. We want to talk to them about college and how they should go because it’s hard in the Hispanic community to see people who are going to college. This is showing students that there are Hispanics who do go to college,” Velazquez said.
LULAC is hosting an event to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, which takes place from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.
This year LULAC has plans at Bob Courtway Middle School in Conway to help organize an effective cultural night to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
“This is the first year Bob Courtway will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and that’s pretty cool. We are helping them plan and giving them ideas on what all they could do. We will also have a table at that event,” Velazquez said.
After graduation Velazquez plans to stay involved with LULAC. Staying involved after graduating won’t seem to be an issue for Velazquez.
“I will be involved because my two sisters are in it. You can still be involved, you don’t have to be a student necessarily. You can be a community member, so I could still be a part of it as that,” Velazquez said.
Photo by Ronak Patel