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HOLA looks to expand outreach

Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012

Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2012 17:09

The Hispanic Outreach and Latino Appreciation organization (HOLA) currently has 15 active members, however the  population of Hispanic-American undergraduates at ASU was 188 in 2011, according to the 2011-2012 ASU Factbook.

HOLA’s goal is to reach out to Hispanics on campus and give them a community.

“I don’t see any Hispanics throughout the day; I only see them during the meetings,” said Omar Maya, a junior accounting major of Wickes and president of HOLA. “It may be due to the fact that many don’t live on campus.”

“A lot of our Hispanic students don’t participate in activities because of work and school,” Niya Blair, assistant dean and director of the multicultural center, said. “Or they don’t participate in activities that are related to Hispanic culture.”

“I’ve met Hispanic students who haven’t made a connection to HOLA,” Blair said. “Jonesboro has about 6,000 Hispanic students; a lot of those students are in high school, and they don’t look at college as an option.”

“HOLA hopes to host events for high school students to make them consider ASU,” Maya said. “We hope to break the cultural norm of Hispanics dropping out and not going to college.”

This past weekend, HOLA hosted an event with the Hispanic Center and the Multicultural Center at ASU, said Kayla Hardy, a junior art major of Muskego, Wisc., and vice president of HOLA. “We collaborated and tried to reach out to high school students to let them know that there are Hispanic students at ASU and it is possible to go to college.”

“If HOLA could get huge and people would know what that actually is, we could get a solid foundation where people can reach out,” Hardy said.

This past summer Hardy worked at a meat-packing factory in Wisconsin where she met many Hispanics and found a love for the culture. “I love how hard working they are, their traditions and how family oriented they are,” she said. “They offer different perspectives of America. A lot of Americans take for granted what we get here.”

The Hispanic population is growing not only in Jonesboro but all over the U.S., Blair said. “I think that it allows students, faculty and staff to understand that this is a population that is very much so integrated. You have to be able to understand the culture, understand the people and respect.”

Hardy is also involved with the Hispanic Center in downtown Jonesboro. “We are looking to get people registered to vote and apply for deferred action.” she said. “I hope to reach out to the Hispanic families in Jonesboro. There are a lot of younger kids for the after school program at the Hispanic Center, but no ASU students.”

According to the Huffington Post, half of the nation’s non-Latino population believes that the terms “welfare recipient” and “less well educated” are apt terms to describe the nation’s Hispanic population.

“Sometimes people tend to have this negative view on what they think about Hispanics and only that they are migrant workers, and some are, and there is nothing wrong with being a migrant worker, but there is so much more to Hispanic people and to the culture,” Blair said. “Having HOLA and any organization that works with Hispanic students and makes them more visible is just a win-win.”


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