[email protected] club provides place of unity for WKU latino students

Kristina Burton

With thousands of students here at WKU, it’s easy to feel left out of the crowd sometimes. This is especially true for minority groups.

Latino students decided to come together and change that for themselves with the [email protected] Club.

Valeria Carlin, a 31-year-old Bowling Green senior and [email protected] club president, said that it was started in 2011, but didn’t really take off until 2012 when an email was sent out to all Latino students at WKU.

“I got the email towards the middle of September last year,” Carlin said. “I had been to a few of the 2011 meetings, but they hadn’t sparked my attention, so I decided to give it another try.”

After meeting everyone, Carlin said it made her really want to be a bigger part of the club, so when election time rolled around, she threw her name in for the presidency.

“As president, I coordinate meetings and what we’ll speak about during them, and I’m also the main point of contact for community events,” Carlin said. “I feel that I’m also a motivator because there are times we’re unsure of what we’re going to do, so I like to gather input from the club.”

Carlin also motivates club members through their educational journey here at WKU.

“There are about 400 Latino students at WKU, but not all of them graduate,” Carlin said. “We felt that with gatherings, social events and unity, it can encourage more Latino students to join the organization and also graduate.”

These social events and gatherings have included things like Salsa Nights and Winter Fiestas.

The [email protected] Club also recently made a trip to Frankfort to speak to Congressmen about immigration reform.

Nashville freshman and [email protected] Club vice president, Jonny Garcia said that he’s always willing to help out the club’s president.

“Supporting Valeria is my main job,” Garcia said. “She does everything and does it very well. I’m just her right-hand man for whenever she needs me.”

Garcia is also in charge of reserving meeting places and event locations. He said that he really enjoys the connection that the group has when they come together.

“We’ve gone to Nashville as [email protected] just to eat and have fun,” Garcia said. “The bonding makes it feel like a family.”

Allan Moreno, also a Nashville freshman, agrees that the club provides a united environment.

“Coming from a very diverse high school, this was different for me because the students are mostly white,” Moreno said. “This is a place for me to relate to people.”

Somerset junior Lendee Sanchez had a similar feeling of not being properly represented when she first came to WKU.

“I grew up in California surrounded by Hispanic family and white Irish family,” Sanchez said. “I always had that part of me there, but when I moved to Kentucky it wasn’t represented, and I missed the multicultural and vibrant life I used to have.”

This led Sanchez to be one of the founding members of [email protected] during her freshman year.

“We wanted a place for people to come to when they missed that part of life,” Sanchez said. “People that wanted to be surrounded by others like them but different in certain ways.”

Carlin explained the “@” sign in the club’s name, saying that it represented the O in Latino and the A in Latina as one.

Carlin invites any WKU students, Latino or not, to come out and experience the [email protected] Club.

“We are a Latino organization, but just because you’re not Latino doesn’t mean you can’t come,” Carlin said. “We welcome anyone who wants to know more about Latino students or encourage unity. Also anyone wanting to do social and community events and fundraisers.”

The [email protected] Club meets Mondays at 6 p.m. in the Garrett Common Area above Subway.