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New student organization helps make Hispanic Heritage Month 2021 a success

Raíces helps support Lipscomb’s increasingly diverse student population

Kim Chaudoin  | 

Ballet folklorico at Hispanic Heritage Month dancing

Lipscomb's Hispanic heritage Month included a ballet folklorico dance performance in Bison Square and events planned by new student group Raíces, meaning "roots" in English.

With the growing diversity of Lipscomb’s student population, several new organizations have been launched to foster cultural awareness and to better serve students. 

Raíces, one of the newest additions to Lipscomb’s campus organizations, provides a place for Hispanic students to feel supported and creates a network of support for students of all backgrounds to grow together. Students in this new organization also worked with the Office of Intercultural Development to make Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15-Oct. 15, a success on the Lipscomb campus.

Headshot of Angie Medina

Angie Medina

Raíces, which means “roots” in Spanish,  was launched this past spring by Angie Medina, a junior biology major from Memphis. It is open to all students regardless of ethnicity. 

“Last year I was approached about helping start an organization that would not only serve our growing population of Hispanic students but that would also help our community learn more about our culture,” says Medina. “We especially wanted to create a safe space for students to share their culture and experiences, to be comfortable, to speak Spanish and to be in relationship with each other.”

This fall, nearly 10% of Lipscomb’s undergraduate students — an institutional record — are Hispanic or Latino. The total number of undergraduate, graduate and nontraditional students enrolled at Lipscomb this fall who are of a Hispanic or Latino ethnic background is 318.

“This group was started for students who have their roots in Latin America,” she says. “We chose the name Raíces because we are trying to metaphorically get little plants to grow from the seeds that we sow to reach not only Hispanic students but the entire Lipscomb community.”

Medina says Raíces offers community building events, cultural conversations and professional development. During Hispanic Heritage Month, Raíces hosted two events: Flag Day on Sept. 15 and Fast Friends "En Espanol," an event for students to practice their Spanish in a speed-dating format.

Other Hispanic Heritage Day events held by OID included Fall Fiesta, featuring mariachi music and ballet folklorico dance performances, a Hispanic trivia night, a salsa dance lesson in Bison Square and the Welcome to our Worlds fashion show, featuring cultural dress from around the world.

In addition to the annual Hispanic Heritage Month events, Raíces has regular meetings twice a month and hosts other activities throughout the academic year. The group was recently mentioned by WPLN News, Nashville Public Radio, as one factor in helping Latino students at Lipscomb acclimate to the university community.

Welcome to Our Worlds Fashion Show 2021

The Welcome to Our Worlds Fashion Show during Hispanic Heritage Month

Joining Medina on the Raíces leadership team are Isadora Koch, vice president; Esteban Gonzalez, activities coordinator; Esther Alvarado, secretary; Julia Correa, treasurer; Paola Lopez, historian; and sponsor Marcella Barbosa, collections manager and education coordinator for Lipscomb’s Lanier Center for Archaeology. 

Medina, who plans on attending medical school after graduation, is involved in numerous campus activities including the Quest Team, Student Government Association, a tour guide for the Office of Admissions and a member of Phi Sigma social club. She believes creating awareness of and celebrating the many cultures represented in the student body brings students closer together. 

“Lipscomb, in my opinion, is very diverse. Highlighting those diverse cultures brings so much of the community together. Seeing my friends who aren't Latin celebrating my culture makes me feel so welcomed and loved,” Medina reflects. 

“I think when others see that students are actively trying to learn about other cultures and actively participating in the events Raíces and the OID put on, they see that they are being welcomed and loved. It demonstrates that despite the fact that we may have some cultural differences, we still love each other for who we are. And I think that brings us together as a local community. It really highlights the community that everyone talks about finding when they come to Lipscomb.”

The Lipscomb is a community has become a special place to Medina. 

“Lipscomb has truly been a community that I did not know that I needed when I came here as a freshman. It has pushed me in every aspect of my life — socially, academically, spiritually — and so I'm really grateful for that … knowing that at the end of the day, there is someone out there who is rooting for me and who I can rely on, whether that be other students or faculty,” says Medina. “It feels really nice to know that it's a home away from home.”

“Academically, I've been pushed in ways I never thought I'd ever push myself, especially within the biology department,” she continues. “It feels nice that they really care about our education and about the way that we're growing as they’re trying to prepare us for medical school so that when we get there it’s not a shock. Socially it’s given me an opportunity to push myself to interact with people who aren't in my circle of friends. I'm happy that

Lipscomb provides opportunities to push ourselves out of our comfort zones. Lipscomb has pushed me out of my comfort zone to help me grow and flourish.”

NOTE: Lipscomb University underscores that membership or participation in Raíces is not limited by race or ethnicity and is open to all students regardless of race or ethnicity.

Decorations for Hispanic Heritage Month