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



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Melanie Cruz proudly claimed her Mexican heritage as the second student of an ethnic minority to be elected as president of the Student Government Association following Alan Aja’s term. She was also the second female student to hold this position. Before serving her term as president for the 1997-1998 academic year, she was a founding member of the Latin Students Association.

When asked to reflect upon her time at UK, Melanie stated “My experience in student government was probably the most formidable and the culmination of that service to my fellow student colleagues resulted in being elected student body president and a member of the board of trustees. As it was the case then and I still believe is true today, diversity of voices is critical in positions of leadership and only make us better. I hope UK continues to allow for proactive participation of diverse students in the shared governance of a great public university. I was privileged to have a unique understanding of the inner workings of higher education as a student that ultimately led to my career in higher education.” (email communication with exhibit curator)

The Latin Students Association was the second Latino-student serving organization, although the organization claimed to be the first of its kind. LSA was found in 1994/1995. Melanie Cruz, a founding member of LSA, recounted that a small group of graduate students organized LSA & put an ad in the Kentucky Kernel. Francie Chassen-Lopez was one of the primary faculty advisors that would help with the recruitment and retainment of members. LSA is described to have had a mix of international and domestic Latino students, but with a predominantly international student membership.

Curation Date


Photo Source

University of Kentucky. (1997). Survival: 1997 Kentuckian. 103. Lexington, KY: Author.


Latino students, University of Kentucky, Student Government Association, SGA, President, Inequality, Melanie Cruz


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