A Visual History of Latino Students at the University of Kentucky, 1865-2019



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Many Latino student-serving organizations have been founded in the 2000s (* represents organizations that are no longer active at UK).

Latino-American Student Organization* (2003)

Latino-American Student Organization (LASO) was approved as an organization on November 13, 2003 at the University of Kentucky. In 2003, Noemi Lugo was the faculty advisor, Ricardo Nazario-Colon was the university advisor, and Tracy Nicole Bonilla was the president. The creation of Latino-American Student Organization was a direct result from the congregation of Latino students at the MLK Center and followed the basic format of all overarching Latino-student serving organizations as a social organization whose goal was to unite Latino students at the University of Kentucky. As a culturally-based organization, LASO’s programming revolved around social events to raise awareness and celebrate the cultures of Latin America. The organization collaborated with Black Student Union and the University of Kentucky Mu Theta Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma. A few members also represented LASO through their participation in DanceBlue.

“Rather than being someone people can look up to, I want to make a difference. I want to help people on campus who don’t have a voice. I want make LASO better than it already is, not just for Latino students, but for everyone at UK.” - Zulema Hernandez (president of LASO in 2007)

Delta Phi Mu* (2008)

The Gamma Chapter of Delta Phi Mu Sorority, Inc. was established in 2008 as the first culturally-based sorority at the University of Kentucky. Delta Phi Mu is a historically Latina, culturally-based service and social sorority that was originally found at Purdue University in 1991, but was present at the University of Kentucky 2008-2014.

Kentucky Dream Coalition* (2009/2010)

The University of Kentucky Chapter of Kentucky Dream Coalition was brought to campus in 2009/2010 with the original intention to have a space to speak about issues that primarily affected the Latino community at UK, according to Maria Karen Lopez Torres. KDC stems from United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led community in the United States. The organization was present at the Bluegrass Community Technical College beforehand and is currently an active community-ran organization without a chapter at the University of Kentucky, however there are still direct ties and support for this organization from students, faculty, and staff at UK. During the organization’s time at the University of Kentucky, there was an emphasis on social events with political activism intertwined, such as the Boxes and Walls collaboration with the MLK Center and their participation in the MLK Freedom March. The Kentucky Dream Coalition chapter at the University of Kentucky disbanded and restructured through Latino Student Union in 2014.

Latino Student Union (2014)

Latino Student Union was officially established in 2014 with founding membership from the disbanded Kentucky Dream Coalition. Latino Student Union is currently the umbrella organization for Latino student-serving organizations at the University of Kentucky and provides a wide range of programming to fit the needs of the diverse membership.
Instagram: @lsu_uk

Theta Nu Xi (2016)

The Alpha Omicron Chapter of Theta Nu Xi Multicultural Sorority, Inc. was established in 2016 with fifteen founding members. The Alpha Omicron Chapter was founded under the idea that all cultures and all people should be celebrated, with that idea in mind Theta Nu Xi has continued its time at the University of Kentucky through the celebration of diversity.
Instagram: @tnxao

Sigma Lambda Gamma (2016)

The University of Kentucky Associate Chapter of Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, Inc. was established in 2016 with seven founding members. As a Latina-founded national sorority with multicultural membership, the Associate Chapter has played an important role in celebrating and empowering its members and the Latino student community.
Instagram: @uk_gammas

Sigma Lambda Beta (2016)

The University of Kentucky Colony of Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity, Inc. was established Fall 2016 with seven founding members. The fraternity is historically Latino-based with multicultural membership and has played an important role in making the Latino community at the UK feel a strong sense of home.
Instagram: @uk_betas

Latino Law Society - National Latina/o Law Student Association

The National Latina/o Law Student Association, previously named Latino Law Society, is an active organization at the University of Kentucky in 2019, however the date founded is unknown. The organization is open to all students in the College of Law, but primarily focuses on supporting Latino students in the College of Law and aspires to “inform, excite, and empower generations of Latina/o law students so that they may be responsive to the legal needs of the communities that surround them.”

Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers (2017)

The University of Kentucky Chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers was established in 2017 to empower Latino students in the College of Engineering through professional development, academic excellence, and community outreach. SHPE’s programming revolves around STEM awareness, access, support and development.
Instagram: @uk_shpe

Leading Latinas: A Mentorship Program (2017)

Leading Latinas is a community-based mentorship program co-founded by Maria Morales with Elisa Diaz, Erika Ventura, Anna Villarreal, and Yesenia Moreno. LL currently mentors Latina students at Tates Creek High School and Bryan Station High School to gain the tools necessary to succeed after high school, while simultaneously providing a support system for collegiate mentors.
Instagram: @ukyleadinglatinas

A.L.A.S. (2018)

The Assembly of Latin American Student-Organizations, or A.L.A.S., was established in 2018 through the collaboration of Elisa Diaz, Martin Luther King Center intern at the time and now University of Kentucky Alumna, and Ruth Gonzalez Jimenez, the Latino Student Community Specialist. A.L.A.S. does not serve as one traditional organization but as a collective of organizations in order for all Latino student-serving organizations to collaborate together towards unified goals to better the conditions for future students of Latin American descent.


SACNAS, or the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, is the largest STEM Diversity organization in the nation. The organization is inclusive and welcomes all identities and backgrounds. SACNAS focuses on the success of all underrepresented communities in STEM, in particular Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans, from college students to professionals, in attaining advanced degrees, careers, and positions of leadership in STEM. Several interviewees vaguely remembered SACNAS presence at the University of Kentucky in the early 2000s, but there was no research to support that statement. There is current interest to establish a chapter of SACNAS at the University of Kentucky, for more information please contact Andrés Vindas or Kayla Titialii.

There are more organizations at the University of Kentucky dedicated to serving the Latino community, but the above organizations were selected based on their active status on BBNvolved, archival research, or evidence from interviews. There are also programs under different colleges at UK, such as Hay Que Hablar. Hay Que Hablar is a student-led Spanish conversation club based in the Lewis Honors College (the first of its kind within the college). They strive to create a space for those interested in and/or studying Spanish to improve their casual conversation skills while simultaneously teaching members about Latin American cultures, variations of Spanish throughout Latin America, music, and food in a judgement-free and relaxed environment.
Instagram: @HayQueHablarUK

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Latino students, University of Kentucky, Latino-American Student Organization, Delta Phi Mu. Kentucky Dream Coalition, Latino Student Union, Theta Nu Xi, Sigma Lambda Gamma, Sigma Lambda Beta, Latino Law Society, National Latina/o Law Student Association, Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers, Leading Latinas, A.L.A.S., SACNAS


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