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Nicole Roales
University Communications

Last modified: Tuesday, April 22, 2008

IU Latino Studies graduates its first cohort of students

April 22, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The first cohort of undergraduate students enrolled in the Latino Studies minor at Indiana University Bloomington are set to graduate on May 3.

Four students in the program are scheduled to graduate next month with three additional students planning to graduate later in the year. The program's 15-credit hour minor was launched in fall 2006, and it now has 22 students with a declared minor.

Latino Studies

Students and faculty in the IU Latino Studies Program recognized graduating seniors at a banquet last week. The program has four seniors graduating in May 2008.

Print-Quality Photo

Arlene Diaz, interim director of the Latino Studies Program, associate professor in history and director of undergraduate studies for the history department, said the program helps students have a better understanding of the Latino culture.

"Basically the Latino Studies minor allows students to have a broader understanding of diversity in the United States and gives them what some people call 'cultural competency,'" Diaz said. "It also allows them to develop critical thinking skills."

The mission of IU's Latino Studies Program is to empower individuals with skills and concepts to better understand Latino communities; to advance innovative research and scholarship on Latino cultures, histories and social conditions; and to engage students, scholars and the larger community in collaborative projects, civic programs and service learning.

The courses are taught by professors of communication and culture, education, history, language, law, literature, music, sociology and other disciplines. The multidisciplinary courses introduce students to the latest research on the fast-growing and diverse Latino population in the United States. Diaz said that by the year 2050, one in every four U.S. residents will be a Latino, and the program is preparing students for that future.

"We give them a better understanding of the diversity of Latinos in the United States, including their issues but also their contributions to United States society that often remain silent in the media," Diaz said. "These students are really prepared for that future not only in providing services but in making decisions regarding the population."

Johanna Moya-Fábrega is the instructor for the course "Gender and Migration from the Caribbean" and has received positive feedback from students regarding the Latino Studies course. She said students in her class enjoyed the combined use of multimedia and readings with discussion.

"My students learned about the role that the United States' foreign policy has played in the immigration of peoples from the Caribbean to this country," Moya-Fábrega said. "They also learned about how gender and class has shaped the settlement and reception of different Spanish-speaking Caribbean communities in the U.S."

IU senior Manuel Serna Martinez added the Latino Studies minor to his major in biology. A Latino from East Chicago, Ind., Martinez said he added the minor after staying an extra year at IU.

"The minor will help me better understand myself and my culture," said Martinez, who is planning a May graduation. "I have learned a vast amount about Latinos other than just Mexicans and Puerto Ricans. I have learned a great amount of history and identity among various Latinos."

Jamie Palmer, a sociology and American studies major from Terre Haute, Ind., is also planning to graduate in May with a minor in Latino Studies. Palmer enrolled in the program because she's interested in the culture.

"Latinos and Latinas are becoming a large part of American culture," Palmer said. "In general, I just think it is important to be knowledgeable on U.S. and Latin American relations since it is such a big part of the political situation and decisions being made today."

Palmer said the minor will be useful to her in graduate school. She plans to incorporate research dealing with Latin America, identity and culture into her graduate research in sociology.

More information about the Latino Studies Program can be found at: To speak with a student graduating with a Latino Studies minor, contact Nicole Roales, Office of University Communications, at or 812-856-3717.