Before Sept. 6, there weren't many spaces for Mexicans to gather and to know each other at UNC, said senior Luz Garcia Lara.
Now, Lara is a member of UNC AMEXCAN, a chapter of the Association of Mexicans in North Carolina, Inc. that works to promote active participation of Mexicans in their communities and encourage appreciation, understanding and prosperity of Mexican culture.
Senior Jonathan Cortez is the founder and co-president of UNC AMEXCAN. He said one of the main reasons he founded a chapter of the organization at UNC was to ensure representation on campus of groups affected by the Supreme Court’s ruling in UNC v. Students for Fair Admissions, which eliminated race as a factor in university admissions.
“I believe that it’s very important to have to make people feel like they are still important here,” Cortez said. “For the future generations, they can look it up and be like, ‘Oh, look, there’s an association here that tailors to me, despite barriers being placed and not allowing me to succeed in the best way at these higher institutions.'"
Aislin Sanchez, co-president of the chapter, said the club is needed at UNC for two other reasons: to provide resources for first-generation Mexican American and Mexican students and to have a designated space on campus for Mexicans.
“That's the main goal — to empower, build and give them the resources so that one, they can excel and two, they can look back and bring [the resources] upon those who don’t know,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez said that many first-generation Mexican Americans are less aware of the network of resources available within higher education and because of this, may not have the confidence to explore some professional tracks.
The club will specifically focus on providing resources for students studying pre-med, pre-dental and pre-law to aid their University experience. UNC AMEXCAN Vice President Christian Rendon said these resources include panels, involvement opportunities on campus and networking with other students.
The club creates community by celebrating Mexican culture and creating a space for Mexicans to share their experiences with each other.