Kaydee Gawlik/Staff Photographer
Mi Familia held a Quincenera for the organization’s 15th year in the McKimmon Center from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Yesenia Jones | Correspondent

On October 13, members from all academic disciplines and various racial backgrounds could be seen enjoying themselves on the dance floor while learning the steps to traditional Latin dances in celebration of Mi Familia’s 15th year at NC State and the beginning of their scholarship fund.

The event had a Quinceañera theme, following a very traditional flow of events.

Peruvian food was catered by Alpaca and classic Quinceañera group dances were followed by anecdotes from past presidents and members. Guests were asked to bring “gifts” in the form of donations to disaster relief for those affected by the recent earthquake in Mexico and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

Dr. Andrea Duhon, co-founder and former president of Mi Familia, started the organization in 2003 as a way to connect Latinos on campus and create an inclusive support group for students to lean on. Duhon, who is originally from Miami, remembers a time when she felt alone at NC State as a Latin woman and one of the very few Colombians on campus.

People Dancing

Kaydee Gawlik/Staff Photographer
Attendees enjoy the evening’s festivities by dancing. Mi Familia celebrated their 15th anniversary on Friday October 13 in the McKimmon Center. Mi Familia meets once a month on Mondays at 7pm in Talley 4101.

“We called it Mi Familia because that’s what we were looking for,” Duhon said in her speech. Mi Familia started through the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, also known as SHIP, which brought together Latin students at the time. Duhon’s goal was to create an organization that would include all academic disciplines.

She went on to describe how proud she was of the community Mi Familia has created and encouraged students to use their voices to lift each other up, especially in today’s political climate.

Two other presidential predecessors gave their anecdotes on how Mi Familia has made a lasting impact on NC State’s campus. One of them being Cristal Vivanco, a 2016 graduate and former secretary, president and student advisor for Mi Familia.

Vivanco, a New Jersey native, described her high school as a predominantly white private school lacking culture. When looking forward to higher education, she wanted a school with more of a Latin presence.

She found what she was looking for in Mi Familia, and now regards it as her “home away from home.” She recalls feeling welcomed and empowered to run for leadership positions during her first year as a member of Mi Familia.

“It makes me so proud that we are still as strong as we are, and that we are doing great things,” Vivanco said. She also said how important it is for students to continue to build Mi Familia’s community reach by taking initiative and inviting people to meetings.

As part of their efforts to be a part of the local Latin community, Mi Familia also announced their new scholarship fund. Approximately 140 students, faculty and alumni attended the ticketed event and were excited to hear that the proceeds from the event were going to be included in the scholarship fund, which will eventually be given to an incoming freshman.

Stephanie Guzman, a second-year nutrition major, was especially excited to hear about the scholarship program.

“I think it’s really nice and a step up from what we already have,” Guzman said. “We have this program called Juntos, which is an organization that works with young Latino and minority high school students to uplift them and help them to start thinking about college. This fund goes a step above that by actually investing in students and providing financial aid.”

People dancing

Kaydee Gawlik/Staff Photographer
Members of Sube Ritmo perform a dance during Mi Familia’s Quinceañera, Friday, Oct. 13. Mi Familia held a Quincenera for the organization’s 15th year in the McKimmon Center from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

This scholarship will be the first of its kind at NC State. It is currently the only scholarship funded by a student organization at the university that specifically aims to provide financial aid to incoming students of color.

It has yet to be announced what the criteria for scholarships recipients will be, and when the scholarship will go into effect. It is also unclear what the amount of the scholarship will be.

A celebratory cake cutting ended the night and solidified a moment of unification as everyone enjoyed their slice of tres leches cake.

“I think it was a good way bring all of us together even though we are all a part of separate organizations,” Guzman said. “We always have fun sharing our cultural dances with others.”