El Centro offers programming to support CSU’s Latinx students

Kota Babcock

El Centro
El Centro office located in the Lory Student Center on Aug. 31. (Anna Tomka | The Collegian)

El Centro offers a variety of events and programming for Latinx students in want of a community at Colorado State University. Whether it’s your first year or your last semester on campus, El Centro’s space serves a variety of student needs focused on culture and community building.

While El Centro hosted their open house and events for getting new students familiar with the space last week, there are still ways for Latinx students to find community in upcoming weeks. El Centro is located in Lory Student Center 225. 

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El Centro offers programming and drop-in hours each week and creates new programs based on student feedback, such as the annual Central/South American and Caribbean meetup.

Perla Hurtado Flores, the front desk marketing coordinator at El Centro, said this program came from feedback that the space was heavily focused on Mexican culture. 

“We wanted to change that dialogue (and make) sure students know that our center is open to everyone, even if you don’t identify as Latinx,” Hurtado Flores said. 

Platicas

Platicas happens every other Wednesday from 5-6 p.m. both in El Centro and through Zoom. Platicas translates to “conversations” and offers students the chance to facilitate and engage with dialogue on issues and events that impact the Latinx community. According to El Centro’s website, topics have ranged from mental health to colorism and anti-Blackness in the Latinx community. 

During Latinx Heritage Month, which is Sept. 15-Oct. 15, El Centro hosts Platicas every Wednesday. In the next few weeks, Platicas takes place on Sept. 8, 15, 22 and 29. 

La Conexión

La Conexión serves as a peer mentoring group at El Centro and supports first-year Latinx students. To join La Conexión, students go through an application process. The priority deadline to join is Sept. 8.

“It’s just a place where (students) are able to find a social (and) networking group,” Hurtado Flores said. 

“What we do is build a community for first-year and transfer students as well to get them comfortable with being here, in a white-serving institution,” said Manchis Ceja, a peer mentor and family leader for La Conexión. “As a family, we meet on a weekly basis and do activities together, get to know each other and build that sense of community within our group.”

Lunch with Latinx Leaders

Lunch with Latinx Leaders is a newer program from El Centro, with the first meeting happening Sept. 30 from noon to 1:15 p.m. This event is offered in a hybrid format, so students can attend on Zoom or at El Centro. It’s offered on the last Thursday of every month. 

“Students can come in, talk to leaders in our community and maybe do some job networking,” Hurtado Flores said. 

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Triunfo mentoring

Triunfo mentors support third through fifth grade students with homework help and more. Mentors meet with students from Harris Bilingual Immersion School on Thursdays from 3-5 p.m., and free food is available. 

“It’s for grad students, but if undergrad students (want) to apply, they can as well,” Hurtado Flores said. “Usually (we choose to mentor for) the bilingual schools in Fort Collins.”

Mentor orientation is available Sept. 9 and 16 for interested students on the third floor of the Natural and Environmental Sciences Building.

Todos Juntos

Todos Juntos gives graduate students a place to create their own community at El Centro. Meetings typically focus on a topic, such as identity, involvement or professional development. 

Todos Juntos meets once a month on Mondays at 5 p.m. in a hybrid format either on Zoom or in El Centro. The first meeting of the semester is Sept. 13. 

Office hours

Outside of organized programming, El Centro is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. During office hours, students can study, hang out or access some of El Centro’s resources

Financial aid drop-in hours are also available on the first Wednesday of each month from 2:30-4:30 p.m. in El Centro. 

Kota Babcock can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @KotaBabcock.