Q: I heard the University of Houston-Victoria formed a Latino association this year. What are the group’s plans, and can I join?
A: The UHV Latino Faculty and Staff Association is one of the newest groups at the university, and members met virtually several times during the fall.
The group — an employee-driven organization — has seen a great turnout and interest from the UHV community, with at least 40 people attending each meeting. Community members also are welcome. Members also held elections for officer positions for the group, and each officer will each serve a term from Jan. 1 through June 20.
Since UHV is a Hispanic-Serving Institution, as well as a university in an area where 47% of the population is Hispanic, the group members think it is important to have an association to support Latino UHV employees, students and the area Latino and Hispanic community.
During meetings, members have been able to share stories about how being Latino shapes their experiences both in their personal and professional lives, as well as the challenges and difficulties they face.
The group is diverse. There are members of the group who are the first in their families to have a college degree. Some members learned English as a second language. Others speak Spanglish or no Spanish at all. And while the group is focused on the Latino culture, membership is open to anyone who wishes to participate.
For the spring, the group plans to collect qualitative data from Latino employees at UHV about their experiences as Latinos in South Texas and at the university, as well as data on the hiring and retention of Latino employees at the university.
Some of the topics that will be covered during spring meetings will include professional identity and what it means to the Latino culture to see representation in leadership positions, Latinos with Doctor of Philosophy degrees, and other forms of degrees and certificates earned through higher education. The group also plans to be involved in the local Hispanic community and help host events, such as the annual Día de los Muertos event in the fall.
In addition, the group has spent time discussing the question more Latinos in America are asking themselves: What does it mean to be a Latino in the U.S.? What they have learned is that while there are similarities in experiences, the way Latinos and Hispanics view themselves is evolving every day. The association was formed to light the path for growth for the Latino community at UHV and in Victoria.
The Latino Faculty and Staff Association is open to full-time faculty, administrators and staff at UHV as well as community members. To fill out a membership form, go to uhv.edu/latino-faculty-staff-association/members. Membership is free.