Hispanic Heritage Month: Latino and Hispanic students at ASU seek to impact society with their careers


Sergio López, Pablo Casanova and Marisol Ortega are three ASU students studying different professions but with a common goal: they are all presidents of clubs of the utmost importance for the Hispanic and Latino students of ASU.

López was born in the United States but grew up in Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico. He is in his final year of his mechanical engineering program and serves as president of ASU’s Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE).

SHPE is dedicated to helping Hispanic students reach their full potential through the development of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

“Not only do we help them excel in school, but also in their professional fields,” López said.

López believes that there is a disparity in the STEM professional field, which he seeks to reduce by preparing students with all the necessary resources, such as private lessons and networking events so that they can expand their knowledge. In this way, he hopes to demonstrate to businesses the importance of diversifying the workforce.

“All the companies that hired the club‘s engineering students came back the following year with the desire to hire others,” he says. “That’s our goal at the end of the day.”

As president of his club, López is committed to emphasizing the skills that play a fundamental role in the lives of students, such as issues related to taxes, credit benefits and bank cards, among others. .

“For people who already know this, it may seem very simple,” López said. “But we have people with different levels of learning.”

He added that some of the money SHPE earns from sponsorships is used to sponsor students at national conventions, buy plane tickets, buy tickets to job fairs and, where possible, also for accommodation.

His goal in the club is to be able to establish SHPE as one of the best Hispanic clubs in ASU so that newly admitted students have a broad knowledge of all the benefits offered by the club and the support that exists among the members of the club. club with experts. in the specialty.

“I like to help them with the most important tools for their profession,” he said. “That way people can end this year better prepared.”

Like López, Pablo Casanova is another young leader in his organization that promotes the integration of Hispanic students for better representation in society.

Casanova, 20, is president of ASU’s Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA), a club created by Latino professionals with the goal of expanding student leadership in the global workforce.

The extent of the agreements ALPFA has with companies, resources and mentors is inexplicable, Casanova said. He added that he seeks to guide and show the right path to all members of the club, based on participation and team collaboration.

“I was immediately informed of the resources offered by the club and it almost immediately had an impact on my life,” Casanova said. “What I’ve achieved, anyone can do. It’s a matter of having confidence in yourself and not letting anything get in your way.”

He also highlighted the club’s primary focus on Hispanic students being able to face conformism and being able to achieve higher goals. Casanova feels lucky to have a valuable scholarship to help pay for his education at ASU. However, he is aware that not all students have the same advantage.

“In the not-too-distant future, I’d like to help Hispanic families understand finances, because sometimes it can be hard to understand,” Casanova said. “From an early age, it is very important to instill this value in children.”

So far, Casanova has managed to organize different internships in prestigious companies which have contributed a lot to his knowledge. Among them are PWC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) and The Vanguard Group, Inc. This was all possible thanks to the relationships he built at the club, he says.

“You should never stop learning,” he said. “I want people to see me as an example to follow and as a source of inspiration.”

The impact of young leaders in society is the mentality to build a better world, the ability to see the world in a different way according to their ideas and perceptions, according to Casanova. “We are the only ones who are worried about our future,” he said. “We are focusing more on equity, economic equality, gender equality, environmental issues and finance.”

Alan Quezada, ALPFA’s finance president at ASU, works closely with Casanova for the same purpose and said the main reason for joining ALPFA was to know it was a club. of prominent Latinos where generosity prevails.

Quezada highlights the importance of the solidarity that exists within the club, the desire that everyone has with the other to be able to help each other and encourage this new generation to build a better world.

“I only help you because you are my friend, because you are my brother,” Quezada said.

The two agreed that there is an existing perception that there are not enough Latinos in important professional positions in the United States.

“When you go to business school and you start to see who the executives are, who are on the front line; it’s very rare to see Hispanics there,” Casanova said.

As of fall 2021, only 3,622 Latino/Hispanic students were enrolled at ASU’s WP Carey School of Business, according to documents provided by the University. Latino students made up 19.7% of the number of students enrolled at WP Carey. However, that number has increased from the 2,324 Latino and Hispanic students who enrolled in fall 2016.

Casanova added that just finding more Hispanics in the business world with the ambition to excel is motivation enough to want to do more. He also said that the best way for young leaders to have an impact in society is to connect them with professionals in their field of work and to have a network where they can find these opportunities in society.

“The role of young people in society is to empower others, not only to progress themselves, but also to share and spread that success to others,” Casanova said.

ASU’s ALPFA is constantly working to create more opportunities and add value to Latino professionals for a change in society. While it is true that the organization was initially created with a focus on the field of finance, currently Casanova and Quezada emphasize the expansion of the club into the general field of business and welcoming all those who study.

On the other hand, Marisol Ortega, a graduate in public relations, is president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ-ASU).

Ortega said being a journalist, regardless of race or nationality, involves wanting to bring about change in the community. However, being a Latino/Hispanic journalist comes with more responsibility in your community and great influence.

“We need to make sure the representation on Spanish-language television is good and the stories told are accurate,” Ortega said.

Ortega’s perception of the students is that they all decide to join the club with the same goal of bringing about positive change in society. “We have the ability to speak Spanish and reach out to our community by letting them know about immigration issues, for example,” she said.

She also said that NAHJ-ASU primarily helps students navigate their careers or general academic environment. Especially when the student comes from a family that has not had the opportunity to develop a professional career that can serve as a source of information.

Ortega’s parents were first-generation Americans who attended college. She is proud that her parents graduated from ASU, although she understands that not all students have this advantage.

“Most of the time we are not taught the skills we need, especially when we come from a community where many people have not gone to college or have any experience in this professional world” , Ortega said.

Compared to other communities, Ortega thinks the Latino community faces a system that isn’t designed for them, even worse because it’s still relatively new to the United States, and Latinos haven’t had the opportunity to have generations of Latinos in the United States who can cheer them on.

“That’s why I think it’s important for Latinos to be in the media, because that representation is important and essential to normalizing the Latino experience here in the United States,” she said.

One important aspect that surprises Ortega is the lack of Hispanic students at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, ASU’s journalism school, since Arizona is a state with a large Hispanic population.

“My goal is to hopefully change that and make it something more, not a social club, but a place where people can find social support and find a community that helps each other improve. “, Ortega said.

SHPE ASU, ALPFA ASU and NAHJ-ASU are three organizations with different goals but with the same goal of wanting to promote the Hispanic student community to professional improvement through the necessary resources that allow access to valuable employment and the ability to leave an imprint on society.

Translated by Yamileth Cabrera.

Edited by Greta Forslund and Brenda Muñoz Murguia.


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