When Zitlalli Herrera first started classes at Salt Lake Community College in 2010, she wanted to feel a sense of belonging.
It wasn’t until she graduated from SLCC and returned with a master’s degree as an Orientation and Student Success coordinator, that she realized other students needed that, too. Months of planning led to a new organization bringing together students all over campus: Latinx/os/as United for Change and Activism, or LUChA.
“It is an honor for me to be back with my peers, the ones that were there when I was a student and that now are part of LUChA,” Herrera explained.
Richard Diaz, also a SLCC alumnus, and a couple of other students helped form LUChA, an on-campus organization that gives students the opportunity to become leaders and learn more of the Latinx experience in the United States.
“Richard has been my mentor; I look up to him,” Herrera said.
Diaz, who was named LUChA’s advisor by students, has been pushing this group forward to be successful.
Part of the mission of the club is to help and support students with scholarships, especially for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students who do not qualify for any other type of scholarship.
“I do belong here. I do deserve to continue with my education,” said Aimee Contreras, a member of LUChA.
Contreras said when she joined LUChA, she started feeling more confident and that she was part of something, no matter her race or ethnicity.
“I do identify myself to be Chicana,” Contreras said of the term for an American girl or woman of Mexican origin or descent.
All students are welcome to join LUChA, but the most important key for members is the desire to be involved, willing to learn and volunteer, Diaz said.
“The key to being successful in college is finding a community and a support group,” said Diaz, who returned to work at SLCC after achieving his master’s degree in educational leadership and policy. “This place felt like home. I wanted to work in a place where I felt a sense of community and where I could give back to the same community that helped me get through school.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the group was not able to be involved in many volunteering activities in 2020, but now they plan to plant trees in the fall.
“We’d love for you to connect with us and help lead this group while at the same time belonging to a group whose goals are to help you be successful and give back to your community,” Diaz said.
For students interested and would like to participate, they can reach out to LUChA’s advisors through their Instagram page, the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs at 801-957-4954, or the club website.