Hispanic Student Association bridges gap between Baylor, Hispanic community

Hispanic Student Association celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month by inviting people to learn more about Hispanic culture. Photo courtesy of Baylor University.

Samantha Garza | Staff Writer

Through culture sharing, the Hispanic Student Association strives to bridge the gap between the Hispanic community and the rest of the Baylor population.

Richmond senior and HSA president Jessica Sanchez said they try to reach out and include every student no matter their race, ethnicity or background.

“You don’t have to be Hispanic to join,” Sanchez said. “Maybe you like the music, or your partner is Hispanic and you want to be more in touch with their culture, or maybe you just want to make friends.”

According to Baylor’s website, 17% of students at Baylor identify as Hispanic.

“The Hispanic community at Baylor is the second largest ethnicity group, but we are the least represented around here,” Sanchez said.

With around 200 active members, HSA is a growing organization that strives to educate students and serve as a home away from home for members.

Under the Latinx Coalition, HSA is the biggest umbrella, Sanchez said.

Sanchez said it was special to see how new members who started out lost in their Baylor journey were slowly finding their place through groups like HSA.

“Baylor is such a special place, and we [HSA] get to make it even better,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez said the organization tailors to students from different Hispanic and Latin countries and cities, as well as students who grew up with a different experience with the Hispanic culture. For example, the Houston Hispanic community is different from the Dallas Hispanic community or the Chicago Hispanic community, so executive members try to be aware of that and make sure everyone feels included and comfortable.

“We try to embrace the mix between Mexican-American descent or Hispanic-American descent, because we are a bicultural organization at this point,” Sanchez said. “Most of our members are bicultural, so we try to embrace that, and we try to embrace our spanglish.”

As president, Sanchez said she wants to leave her mark by expanding their outreach not just to the Baylor community but to the Waco community as well.

A lot of the organization’s sponsors are Hispanic-owned businesses around the city, like Helados La Azteca and Normas Blooming Bike. So, part of Sanchez’s legacy in HSA will be to show support for these companies just like they have shown support for them.

Sanchez said that if it weren’t for HSA, she would be lost.

“HSA has introduced me to so many amazing people,” Sanchez said. “Some of my best and closest friends have come from HSA, and I think that it truly has made me be more in-touch with my culture now that I’m so far away from it.”

Fort Worth junior and HSA vice president Ivan Muñoz said the organization is all about unity and connecting the Hispanic culture with Hispanic students at Baylor so that they feel like they have a space.

“We provide a community, a family, a place to find friends and just a fun place to hang out and celebrate our culture,” Muñoz said.

Muñoz said he initially joined HSA just to see what it was about but ended up finding his best friends and a solid group of people.

With so many active members in the club, executive members set up a system of “familias” to personalize the members’ experience in the organization. New members are placed in a “familia,” which is a group of five to 10 people led by an officer.

“It’s a really chill and fun way to get to meet people in a big organization,” Muñoz said.

The “familias” will then have their own small events, like studying together or grabbing coffee.

“It’s a great resource, and it’s good to know someone that has had more experience at Baylor, that can mentor you through things,” Muñoz said. “And that’s really what we’re here to do as leaders of HSA.”

With Hispanic Heritage Month in full swing, HSA has a few events planned on and off campus. The organization partners with the Department of Multicultural Affairs to plan and organize such events.

You can visit the Multicultural Affairs website, follow the HSA social media accounts or subscribe to the Multicultural Affairs newsletter to stay up-to-date with upcoming events.