23 May Latino Alumni Reunite At Yale University
Latino alumni from all over the world gathered at Yale University on April 3-5 for the first Latino Alumni Reunion, which centered around the theme “Uniting Yale Latinos: From Nuestra Casa to Contributions Around the World.”
As a dedicated member of the Yale community, Francisco Leal of Leal-Trejo, PC, believed this would be a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with old classmates and learn about the university’s interaction with current students.
While there, alumni attended informal sessions on topics ranging from “Overcoming Barriers for Latinos Reaching Higher Education” to “Managing Global Teams.”
Still, the Honorable Eduardo Padro (Yale ’75) commented to the Yale Daily News about a theme that was omnipresent in every alumnus’ mind throughout these discussions: “This is a special event that brings back memories of how difficult it was for Latinos to feel comfortable at Yale.”
In order to understand the difficulties past students faced, staff members from La Casa Cultural, the Latino Cultural Center of Yale University, interviewed prominent members of the Yale Latino community in order to document the history of Latinos at Yale.
Leal was one of the featured alumni. In his interview, he described how it was difficult as student from a poor neighborhood near Roosevelt High School in East Los Angeles to acclimate to the atmosphere at Yale University.
Nevertheless, Leal noted that he has noticed significant improvements within the past 20 years: “For example, during my time here, we did not feel comfortable interacting with students of different classes and race. Now, Latino students at Yale disregard this notion. They know that they are equal in intelligence to their peers and do not think of race as an inclusion factor.”
After all the alumni left, current students gathered in various places on campus to discuss the obstacles that past alumni had to overcome in order to achieve the sense of comfort most Yale Latinos now feel within the university.
Ben Gonzalez (’09) stated, “Attending both the Latino and LGBT alumni reunions, I was repeatedly told about the ambivalent welcome home (to Yale). One alumna said she could feel her claw marks on the walls of Yale the institution and now saw the fruit of her labor: us — somewhat happy, adjusted, and flourishing Latinos. I hope we can make her and the rest of the alumni proud for paving the way.”