Raices serves Lipscomb’s growing Hispanic population
Kim Chaudoin |
With the growing diversity of Lipscomb’s student population, several new organizations have been launched to foster cultural awareness and to better serve students.
Raices is one of the newest additions to Lipscomb’s campus student organizations. It was launched this past spring by Angie Medina, a junior biology major from Memphis, who wanted a place for Hispanic students to feel supported and to create a network of support for students of all backgrounds to grow together.
“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.”
The organization is named Raices, which Medina explains means “roots.”
“This group was started for students who have their roots in Latin America,” she says. “We chose the name Raices 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.”
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.
Medina says Raices offers community building events, cultural conversations and professional development. During Hispanic Heritage Month this September, Raices is hosting a series of events that has included a Day of Independence festival in Bison Square featuring music, dances and food, and an art exhibit in the Office of Intercultural Development lounge in Bennett Campus Center that highlights the work of Hispanic artists. In addition, the organization has regular meetings twice a month in addition to hosting other activities and events throughout the academic year. Raices is open to all students regardless of ethnicity.
Joining Medina on the Raices 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, SGA officer, 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 them 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 events Raices and the OID puts 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 they find 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 like 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 for 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 Raices is not limited by race or ethnicity and is open to all students regardless of race or ethnicity.