The Ánimo Latinx Series Promotes Latinx Student Success

This spring, the Office of Cultural and Academic Transitions (OCAT) is hosting the Ánimo Latinx series, which will consist of three community-building and motivational events.

While creating the series, Juan Flores, OCAT’s student success and community initiatives coordinator, and Stephanie Lopez, graduate student in student affairs administration, struggled to decide on a name for the event. , but they ultimately opted for Ánimo.

“Ánimo means a lot of different things to anyone who speaks Spanish,” Flores said, “but they all have to do with motivation, success, drive, energy and optimism. Every time you say it, it lifts your spirits and gets you excited for the day. It’s something we grow up with in every Latinx household… Every time my peers, my family, my siblings saw that I was down, (they said), ‘ánimo Juan’, like pulling yourself together or lifting your spirits. As soon as they said, it was as if that energy washed over me.

This uplifting is exactly what they envision for the series.

The Latinx Community Kickoff will be today, Feb. 7 at the Erickson Kiva from 6-8 p.m. The event will primarily be a community bonding event for Latinx students and college students from all walks of life to connect through conversation and food. OCAT has also planned several activities for the event, including students envisioning the perfect day for themselves and a letter to their future, which they hope will help students remember why they work so hard.

“For the most part (the activities) give students time to reflect,” Lopez said. “I often feel that in higher education we just do homework after homework. We’re like, come on, come on, come on, come on. We don’t just ask ourselves, ‘why are we doing this? What is the purpose of this?’ I know I’m going to graduate, but in the end, ‘does that make me happy?’ So this (event) will make them reflect and rethink what they really want, and if they are going to achieve it with what they are doing.

The second part of the Ánimo series will take place on March 21. This event will be dedicated to discussing impostor syndrome – the feeling of not belonging somewhere even though you have earned your place there – that many Latinx students struggle with when attending predominantly white institutions like MSU .

“Imposter syndrome is something that holds us back a lot,” Lopez said. “…I think especially for a lot of Latinx communities, historically (marginalized), things like impostor syndrome are very rarely talked about in the community, so to get into these new spaces, and these new feelings, we just want having that space to foster that, and saying that it’s okay, and that you’re not alone, and I’ve been through that, and sometimes we’ll never get over it, but that’s also something we have to work with .

By discussing and naming feelings like impostor syndrome, Flores thinks Latinx students will be able to better understand why they aren’t always comfortable here or why they don’t feel confident expressing themselves in class. Flores said that by identifying marginalization as the cause of these feelings, students will be able to overcome them.

“A lot of it comes down to giving them that language and knowing that it’s something very common,” Flores said. “It’s not only experienced in the Latinx community, but also in other communities. So giving them the space to define it, explain it and give them their “aha” moments like, “dang, that’s why I felt like I felt before? Alright, I got it, I hope this can accompany them and be shared in their networks and beyond to make a difference.

The final part of the series will take place on April 4 and the topic will be Decolonizing Mental Health, which will focus on addressing mental health stigma in the Latinx community.

“A lot of times we hear that in our families, the saying ‘ponte las pilas,’ which means put your batteries in and make sure you’re powered up and ready to go,” Lopez said. “But sometimes that doesn’t really help us because there are a lot of things that we struggle with going into higher education – that we can’t really put into words or we can’t really express. to our families. (The event is) a safe space for everyone to share those thoughts, opinions and see what helps them, maybe to encourage other people and just to give other ideas.

Since April 4 is still far in the future, OCAT isn’t quite sure what it will look like yet, but they are considering bringing in speakers or panelists for the event.

By doing the Ánimo Latinx series, OCAT hopes to help bridge the opportunity gap by showing Latinx students that they can achieve their dreams and giving them the resources and community to do so.

“For OCAT, learning is very important because we have this philosophy that students can’t be what they can’t see. If they can’t see themselves doing extraordinary things, they can’t might not think about it right away, and they might think about it later,” Flores said. “We try to provide them with people and information across all of our programming that can help improve their success at MSU and the -of the.”

To attend the Latinx Community Launch on February 7, register here:

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