Ohio & Michigan's Oldest and Largest Latino Newspaper

Since 1989




    media kit    ad specs    classified ad rates    about us    contact us


Sabina Elizondo-Serratos: Helping UT Latino students through her own learning experiences


By Alan Abrams, La Prensa Senior Correspondent


Sabina Elizondo-Serratos still remembers the insecurities she felt during her first days as a Latina student at the University of Toledo back in the early 1990s.

Sabina Serratos and students may 2007

“You know how students never really feel comfortable when they first come to a university? I used to look around and ask, ‘Do I really belong here?’ That was because I did not see too many Latino students here,” she recalls.


Today, as the Director of the Office of Latino Initiatives at UT, the post she has held since August 2006, Elizondo-Serratos is doing everything she can to make certain Latino students know they have arrived at a place where they belong.


There are more than 500 Latino students enrolled at UT with approximately 110 being new freshmen or transfer students. The total enrollment at UT is 23,000.


“We’re clearly a minority here on campus, but we’re growing,” says Elizondo-Serratos.


“Knowing you are not alone and feeling a sense of belonging is important in helping a student to get acclimated. I let them know there are many resources here,” says Elizondo-Serratos. In addition to her duties, she has also been functioning as the Interim Director of UT’s New Student Orientation Programs since last April.  She believes that position will be filled permanently by mid-February. She is not a candidate for the job and serves on the search committee. “It is not my area,” she explains, “My passion is my work with Latino students.”


Elizondo-Serratos says that in dealing with students she still finds herself asking, “What would I do? Most people would not know what to do unless they’ve walked a mile in their shoes as I have. I work with the students and their families, and I know the resources and the scholarships. Because I have expertise in financial aid, I know where to go. Even if they do not need financial aid, I know who the go-to person is in most of the departments. I’ll pick up the phone and call them. That’s just me. It is my passion and my calling,” she says.


Elizondo-Serratos worked in the university’s Office of Student Financial Aid from 1991 until she assumed her new position in 2006, rising through the department from Peer Counselor to Senior Financial Aid Advisor. “Unfortunately, there was no room for advancement there unless someone retires. I needed something more hands-on,” she says of her former post.


“My mentors were Deborah Ortiz Flores and Sandra Barrientos Caprioli. They were both very instrumental throughout my path to higher education.  Now I am in the in position Deborah once was. Those are some footsteps to follow,” says Elizondo-Serratos.


Involvement with UT’s Latino Student Union
Her passion is also reflected in the way Elizondo-Serratos has broadened her responsibilities. She has been the Latino Student Union (LSU) advisor since 2001 and helps the group organize their annual scholarship dance.


She provided a photograph to La Prensa of the LSU group of 2007-2008, which can be found on page 20.    

“This year’s dance will be held on March 22, a little later than in previous years. One of the reasons is that we tried to rent Savage Hall for the event. And we are still negotiating to bring in La Mafia, the popular group from Houston,” explains Elizondo-Serratos.

Taylor Balderas with Serratos


“There are 80 members in the Latino Student Union of which 55 can be considered active,” says Elizondo-Serratos. The group meets every Monday evening at 8 pm. José López is the current president, Carlos Ruiz is treasurer, and Nick Abalos is secretary. There is no vice president at this time.

“As the
Latino Student Union advisor, I know that it is so important in keeping the retention initiative,” says Elizondo-Serratos. This year she has folded the Primos mentoring program into LSU, awarding students points for participating. The Primos mentoring program pairs UT upperclassmen with incoming freshmen to help guide them with their transition to college.


“One of the changes I instituted this year was to take the Primos retreat off-campus; I brought it to Maumee Bay Resort. I wanted to take it away from campus where the emphasis is upon always being serious and give them the opportunity for relaxation and to get connected in an informal surrounding. It had never been held in the summer before; instead it was done in September when the students were already under stress. I had nine mentors, and they knew that the emphasis was to be on studies and not party life.


“It made a huge difference every day. It is all about passion and your purpose for being here. And the program is a success. There were only three students who participated in Primos back when it was held in September. This year there were 27,” says Elizondo-Serratos.


She was president of the Latino Student Union during 1994-95.


Other activities and goals
Elizondo-Serratos will be taking 28 students to the US Hispanic Leadership Institute Conference in Chicago, scheduled in February of 2008.   


Elizondo-Serratos is chairperson of the Latino Youth Summit, which will be held on the UT campus on May 7, 2008, from 9 am to 5 pm.


“Families with students in grades 7 - 12th should save the date.  Details with permission slips will come from their schools.  LYS is a day-long event that gives our Latino youth the opportunity to be on campus while learning about different career paths and educational opportunities.  It is important that their academic planning begins even before their junior high school years so that they can be adequately prepared for college. 


“This program allows them to have hands-on and interactive experience with experts in fields such as engineering, business, pharmacy, education, math, technology, fire and police and the trades.  We are always looking for support so please refer anyone who may be interested in assisting with this program on the financial end to connect with my office,” says Elizondo-Serratos.


“It is truly exciting to see more than 700 Latino youths on our campus year after year. Margarita De León should always be credited for bringing LYS to fruition.  It definitely wouldn’t be what it is today without Margarita’s hard work and commitment to this program,” adds Elizondo-Serratos, who began serving on the planning committee in 2003. 


Elizondo-Serratos was born in Toledo. Her parents, Sixto and Sabina Elizondo, moved to San Antonio in March 2007.


She has four sisters. Sandi Elizondo, Irene Elizondo, and Consuelo Nino all live in Toledo and Gregoria Elizondo lives in Seguin, Texas. Their brother Sixto (Tito) Elizondo, Jr. lives in Houston.


“My grandparents were the late Eusebio and Concepción Martínez and the late Marcos and Consuelo Elizondo. Marcos died this November of 2007. The Martínez clan lived on Eastern,” Elizondo-Serratos says.


She attended the SS Peter and Paul elementary school where she recalls “I was a member of the last graduating class before they tore it down. I then went to Libbey High School – I was a cowgirl – and graduated in 1987.”


Elizondo-Serratos earned her degrees at the University of Toledo, including her Associates degree in 1993, her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1998 and her Masters degree in August 2006.


“Growing up, I was the Mexican-American queen for MACA [Mexican American Cultural Association, founded by Carlos Sarabia], and Anita López was my competitor. I love music and I loved my community. Everyone had a lot of pride in the celebrations. I remember there were four band stages all the way down to Segur.


“Your community is who you are. And that inspired me to bring my proposal for the Viva South Mexican American Festival to Celso Rodríguez in 2005. I have been the Toledo chair of the event since then,” says Elizondo-Serratos.


She is married to Mike Serrantos, a self-employed subcontractor active in construction/home remodeling. They have four children:  Jessina is a freshman at UT; Sirena is a sophomore at Central Catholic High School; Michael Jr., is a 4th grader at Queen of Apostles and MiCaela is a 1st-grader there.


Elizondo-Serratos got a taste of politics when she served as campaign manager for Taylor Balderas in her 2005 council campaign. She has also been a contributor and photographer for El Tiempo since 2004.



University of Toledo's LSU students





Web laprensa





«Tinta con sabor»     Ink with flavor!



Spanglish Weekly/Semanal

Your reliable source for current Latino news and events with English and Spanish articles.
Contact us at [email protected] or call (419) 870-6565



Culturas Publication, Inc. d.b.a. La Prensa Newspaper

© Copyrighted by  Culturas Publication, Inc. 2008