UM Latino faculty, students to present research


DATE: April 5-7, 2022

EVENT: University of Michigan Latinx Research Week

DETAILS: What do moon landing missions, Ecuadorian artisanal fishing and a group of Puerto Rican artists from the 90s have in common? These, and many more, are some of the research topics conducted by Latino students and faculty at UM.

Their work will be highlighted at the inaugural Latinx Research Week, a hybrid event that will include virtual research presentations by faculty (5-6 p.m. April 5) and students (5-7 p.m. April 6), as well as a poster session (5-7 p.m. April 7) at the Palmer Commons Great Lakes Room.

Hosted by the UM Puentes graduate student organization, the event will showcase the breadth of work currently being pursued by Latinos at the university.

“We want to highlight the academic achievements of the Latino community on campus and make it more visible,” said Victoria Vezaldenos, graduate student at the School of Education. “It’s important that we not only highlight research relevant to Latin American populations, but it’s important to have visibility of Latin American scholars in all disciplines, the wide range represented in all departments.”

Cassandra Arroyo, a doctoral student in the School of Education, said that in 2019 several graduate students started speaking out about not seeing themselves represented at campus events.

“We didn’t feel like a lot of events catered to our needs as graduate students, and only some programs have specific graduate student organizations,” she said. “What does it mean if you’re the only Latino student in your entire program?” How do you find space for yourself?

After some consideration, Arroyo and others created a welcome event for Latino graduate students. The university has a long history of hosting an event for undergraduates, in conjunction with the student-run La Casa.

In the fall of 2019, Puentes hosted its first event providing graduate student resources and connecting them with current students and discussing issues such as navigating Ann Arbor.

“And that was honestly all we imagined we were going to do,” Arroyo said.

But the students continued to talk about other events. They held small meetings, then COVID-19 hit, and like most events, they moved to a virtual welcome event and added virtual wellness events throughout the year.

This fall, Puentes hosted its second in-person welcome event, became an official student organization, and focused on creating a more robust space for students on campus that focused on academic well-being. They host writing sessions and offer drop-in work sessions to do the academic work to be a supportive community with each other.

Vezaldenos says the upcoming research event highlights the breadth of academic accomplishments of the Latino community on campus.

“We hope this will provide an opportunity for Latino professors, graduate and undergraduate students to share and collaborate, giving students a space to network with Latino professors they may not see in their own departments and maybe in other disciplines,” says Vezaldenos. “And by including undergraduates, we’re trying to expand that and create a pipeline with undergraduates.”

MEDIA: Media are encouraged to attend but are asked to notify the organizers in advance by emailing [email protected]