MSLA celebrates historic event plus diversity on campus
The Multicultural Student Leadership Association, or MSLA, celebrated Cinco de Mayo in the Student Life Center at Dakota County Technical College May 5, 2014. The event featured live music provided by Paraguayan harpist, Nicolas Carter, and guitarist, Pedro Torres, as well as a Taco Challenge, virgin margaritas and the chance to meet students from other cultures, student clubs and academic programs. Mario Hernández, vice president of the Latino Economic Development Center, spoke about how the college and Latino communities can collaborate to expand higher education opportunities while advancing diversity on campus.
“I think everyone should join MSLA, or at least come to one committee meeting. It’s a great experience. You have a lot of connections, you have a lot of great people who are outgoing and willing to become your friend.” — Miriam Vergara
A date of great importance for the Mexican and Chicano communities, Cinco de Mayo marks the victory of the Mexican Army over the French at the Battle of Puebla. Although the Mexican army was eventually defeated, la Batalla de Puebla came to represent a symbol of Mexican unity and patriotism. With this victory, Mexico demonstrated to the world that the peoples of Mexico and all Latin America were willing to defend their lives and liberty against foreign intervention.La Batalla de Puebla
Cinco de Mayo @DCTC gallery
DCTC Supervisory Management Instructor and MSLA Faculty Advisor
On building multicultural awareness on campus:
“The members of MSLA started with phase one, which is acknowledging the different groups we have here on campus. We want everyone to feel like, “This is our campus; this is our community.” It’s about integration, coming together; it’s not about differences. There are differences to a certain degree, but also similarities and ways to come together to enjoy our heritage. Later on, we will be featuring more of what Minnesota is. The state is still very diverse, but we have come together and we are all Minnesotans now. In the 1900s, many people didn’t speak English as their first language. They spoke German, Norwegian, Swedish, so we also want to involve that part of the heritage. For example, Patrick Lair, the college’s director of student success, speaking on St. Patrick’s Day. It was amazing to see him, one of ours, sharing his heritage. So we came together to celebrate and that’s phase one, just celebration, coming together.
“Phase two is getting deeper into the issues and challenges that everybody has and seeing how we can improve student retention and recruitment. Phase two is about having a place where students from here and all over the world feel like, “I belong and I can learn from the world.” I would say we are in phase one right now, in celebration. We are trying to build what I call a Beloved Community that focuses on equality and integration, mutual respect, honoring one another—and I think we are moving to that phase already.”
DCTC Business Management Major, Student Senate President and Adjunct Member of the DCTC Foundation Board of Directors
On Cinco de Mayo:
“I help out at some MSLA events through planning and attending. The events are really fun; it’s nice getting to see other cultures, the dance, the design. My part was donating the drinks. I also helped with setting up and recruiting people to attend the event. It’s exciting to watch people enjoying the event and experiencing a new culture. A lot of people don’t get to listen to live music so having musicians today, especially the harp, is a good experience. I like having people know about the Latino culture. It’s not independence day for my people, but it’s nice that DCTC is bringing these kinds of events onto campus.
“I’ve seen a lot of good outcomes with other events we’ve had involving other cultures. It’s exciting that we have a diverse group of people who are willing to know more and expand their knowledge. I think everyone should join MSLA, or at least come to one committee meeting. It’s a great experience. You have a lot of connections, you have a lot of great people who are outgoing and willing to become your friend.”
For more information about the Multicultural Student Leadership Association at DCTC, contact:
- Harold Torrence
Supervisory Management Instructor and MSLA Faculty Advisor