NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Stephen F. Austin State University’s League of United Latin American Citizens was honored with the National Membership Award and the title of the Young Women of the Year for the state of Texas while attending the 2023 LULAC National Convention and Exposition from Aug. 1-5 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The LULAC National Convention draws approximately 15,000 participants each year, including leaders in government, business and the Latino community. The nationwide organization was founded to advance opportunities for all Hispanic nationality groups.
“This award was earned in part because of the council’s dedication and commitment to addressing social injustice and raising awareness for Latinos and other people of color with their work within the SFA campus community,” said Ja’von Long, assistant director in SFA’s Office of Multicultural Affairs.
SFA’s chapter of LULAC had not attended the national convention since 2019, when they won the honor of National Council of the Year. This year, they raised funds and applied for scholarships from the national convention to send members to the event. While several members applied, two members — Launa Castañeda, LULAC president, and Ivy Cortez, vice president of civil rights — received full scholarships, covering lodging and transportation.
“I honestly was not sure what to expect as the other conventions our members have attended had different areas of focus, and the national convention is a mix of not only educational panels but a time to prep for LULAC’s goals for the next year,” said Cortez, senior English major with a concentration in secondary education from Galena Park. “As for the award, that was a complete surprise. There was some miscommunication about which ones we might be eligible for, so I was pleasantly shocked when we won the National Membership Award. It was an honor to accept it on behalf of our council.”
According to Castañeda, senior political science major from Garland, LULAC has grown drastically from when she was first president, growing from only nine members a year ago to 50 members today.
The organization is committed to bettering the community. Members volunteer to help Nacogdoches High School students learn English, assist at the Nacogdoches Animal Shelter, and advocate for improved accommodations for SFA custodial staff members.
They also participate in community service events, such as SFA’s Big Event and MLK Day of Service. Additionally, LULAC will host their Collegiate LULAC Conference from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 30 in the Baker Pattillo Student Center Grand Ballroom on the SFA campus. The conference theme is “Empowerment and Individuality!”
“The National Membership Award shows that all our hard work is paying off and is a testament to what we accomplish at SFA and the impact we have within our community and nationally,” Castañeda said. “We would not be where we are now without our members and their dedication to this organization, and I am so proud of that fact.”
To learn more about SFA LULAC, visit their Instagram @sfalulac or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT STEPHEN F. AUSTIN STATE UNIVERSITY
Stephen F. Austin State University, the newest member of The University of Texas System, began a century ago as a teachers’ college in Texas’ oldest town, Nacogdoches. Today, it has grown into a regional institution comprising six colleges — business, education, fine arts, forestry and agriculture, liberal and applied arts, and sciences and mathematics. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, SFA enrolls approximately 11,000 students while providing the academic breadth of a state university with the personalized attention of a private school. The main campus encompasses 421 acres that include 36 academic facilities, nine residence halls, and 68 acres of recreational trails that wind through its six gardens. The university offers more than 80 bachelor’s degrees, more than 40 master’s degrees and four doctoral degrees covering more than 120 areas of study. Learn more at sfasu.edu.
By Parastoo Nikravesh, senior marketing communications specialist at Stephen F. Austin State University