Latino Student Union scholarship dinner set for March 31
By Kevin Milliken for La Prensa
Jan. 16, 2012: The University of Toledo’s Latino Student Union is planning its annual scholarship dance, which is set for the end of March. Two local Latino bands La Corporación and the Latino Sound Band will be the featured performers at this year’s dance, the student organization’s 39th annual event.
“This year we decided to go locally, just because they are in the area, so we want to help promote them more,” said Melanie Muñoz, LSU president and a UT junior majoring in political science. “Getting a band from outside the state is really difficult. But we do want to showcase the talent we do have in the area.”
La Corporación is based in Lansing, Michigan. The five-member band is unsigned, but has released some of its own recordings through its MySpace page. The members of the Latino Sound Band hail from Toledo and suburbs north of the border.
The dance is scheduled to take place at the UT Student Union auditorium, 7 p.m. to midnight, on Saturday, March 31. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. All of the proceeds will benefit the Latinos del Futuro Scholarship Fund and the Unidos y Diversos Scholarship Fund.
“It is our biggest event that we host every year,” said Ms. Muñoz. “This dance provides us the financial side of being able to give scholarships every year for our own members. It’s really important to us, because it allows us to give back to our community by getting these kids through school, so it’s a really important even to us.”
Eight LSU members each will receive a $250 scholarship from proceeds raised at the dance. Eligible Latino UT students must maintain a 2.5 GPA in order to apply for the LSU scholarship.
More than 200 people typically attend the dance each year, which has raised anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000, according to Ms. Muñoz, who also serves as diversity co-chairwoman for the Student Government Cabinet and as a senator in UT Student Government.
“We have really grown over the years. We were really small and now we’re up over 200 members,” said Ms. Muñoz. “We’re one of the more close-knit organizations on campus. We call ourselves a little family, a home-away-from-home for students who don’t have that home base nearby or that motivation to get them through the week. We have a lot of people who look out for each other.”
The Latino Student Union president explained the group has a weekly Monday meeting and regular study tables to help their peers stay on track academically and socially. She admitted some students may feel lost otherwise on such a large campus. Ms. Muñoz speaks from personal experience on that point.
“I actually didn’t even sign up for LSU. My mom signed me up, because previously, I was in touch with my roots and I know my culture very well, but I didn’t express it as much as she would have liked me to do,” said the UT junior. “I went to the first meeting and I fell in love. I haven’t missed one since. It’s really helped me express myself in my own personal way, my culture and learning about other Latino cultures.”
Ms. Muñoz stated the organization makes her “want to do more for my community.” She explained it also has influenced her career path, now hoping to become an immigration attorney.
Ms. Muñoz will travel to Chicago Feb. 16-19 with 20 other LSU members to the United States Hispanic Leadership Conference. She is hoping to make some professional contacts from regional Latino leaders while attending the conference.
LSU quickly gets into gear each fall, hosting 30 events on campus during Hispanic Heritage month, which usually runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Those events also serve to draw Latino students together at the beginning of the academic year, which helps them remain close in subsequent semesters.
Tickets for the dance can be purchased in advance from the Latino Student Union office in Student Union Room 3513. For tickets or more information, call the Latino Student Union at 419.530.4326.