Adelante draws first-year students to cultural fair

Paul Cobler

Adelante’s long history of helping students connect with Hispanic organizations on campus continued Monday night.

The annual event, which welcomed about 500 students for music and free tacos, provides a base for first-year Latino students to be introduced to the various groups on campus that cater to them, Adelante co-director Santiago Rosales said.

“Our goal is to enrich that first-year experience and make sure students find that home they’re looking for,” Rosales, a finance junior, said. “We realize that it’s a little difficult to navigate the many different organization fairs, especially from the perspective of a Latinx student. I think the Latinx community at UT is pretty strong and so people find their way into it, and so our role with this event is to make sure that it’s as seamless as possible for students.”

Adelante was previously known as Sabado Gigante and has been a part of UT’s Latinx outreach since 2000. 

“It’s a resource fair, a celebration of culture and an event that makes students aware of the different organizations and resources available on campus,” said Brandelyn Franks Flunder, director of the Multicultural Engagement Center. “It used to be more of an entertainment piece, and we’d have a lot of organizations perform, but over the past few years, we’ve been really focusing on academics and encouraging folks to be academically successful and sound.”

The Multicultural Engagement Center puts on six programs throughout welcome week to introduce students to campus.

“We really just want to bring first-year students together and show them how they can get involved,” Franks Flunder said. “I try not to say it’s a unifying thing because I can’t guarantee that people are going to feel unified, but it’s definitely a place for them to at least feel connected.”

Creating a medium for Hispanic student organizations to meet inquiring students is the most important thing that Adelante does for the University community, according to Shalom Hernandez, vice president for the Hispanic Student Association.

“I think it’s magnificent that they have Adelante,” Hernandez said. “Everyone knows about it rather than just knowing about a single organization, it gives us the ability to connect with other students faster and easier and I just love it.”

Computer science freshman Carla Rivera said Adelante appealed to her because it was an event that reached out directly to Hispanic and Latino students.

“There are a lot of organizations that are co-ed or reach out to everybody, but I wanted to find something that fit my culture and fit my identity,” Rivera said.

Rivera’s parents are both Mexican, and she said the values she was raised with are reflected in the various groups tabling at the event.

“A big part of Mexican culture is family,” Rivera said. “A lot of values and the things that are important to me come from my family, and so I think Hispanic organizations translate a lot of those things into the things that they do and how they give back to the community.”