|Africa Lozano (far right) with co-chairs Alexis Villarreal (l-r) and Diana
Pavon with the rest of the La Mujer Latina Conference committee
UW-Madison’s 19th Annual
La Mujer Latina Conference
this, why it is important to raise our voices, to be able to speak about some of the concerns and challenges that are occurring within our own
Latino community,” said Africa Lozano, the staff liaison to the organizers of the 19th Annual La Mujer Latina Conference held on April 8th in
Grainger Hall and the Red Gym. How do we bridge that gap? How do we talk about the hard stuff and sensitive stuff and still be able learn from
those challenges and be able to bring them together.”
During the day-time sessions, the 60 plus participants attended workshops such as Violencia Domestica en la Comunidad Latina, DREAMERS of
UW-Madison and The Bridge to Graduate School.
“We deal with issues within the Latino community,” Lozano said. “It’s not just related to campus because we do invite the Latino community to
come to this event, whether they are presenters, facilitators or participants because this is an open event for campus as well as the community.
It is an intergenerational conference. We have a great mix of campus students from UW-Madison. We always welcome the community as well.
We’re trying to support and advocate and offer support to and encourage other people to come and learn about our community and what is really
going on within our community. How do we make change to keep moving forward? It’s a very intensive day. Every year, we try to bring up really
great topics. There are just so many, but we try to mix it up a little bit. That way, we’re talking about what is going on in the campus community
and also what is going on within our community, whether it is mental health or child services related. Maybe a panel of students wants to talk
about their experience here at UW-Madison and what it is like to be a Latina student on the UW-Madison campus. The topics are a mix.”
And then after lunch with guest speaker Sandy Morales, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County, there was another round of workshops
before the attendees headed over to the Red Gym.
“We have Noche de Cultura at the end to bring it all together, have a great time, being able to have great discussions, being able to network
with other people whom you possibly got to network with earlier in the day,” Lozano said. “We have our ending party at the end of the day.”
Lozano emphasized that she was merely the advisor to the group that actually planned and implemented the conference.
“I’m very proud of the young women who are part of La Mujer Latina this year and who worked hard, including writing the grant to get approval
for our budget,” Lozano said. “I am really proud of them. I really want to commend them and congratulate them for the wonderful work on this
conference they put on today.”
The conference is a great training ground for student leaders to learn event organizing skills.
“It is difficult letting a lot of people know about the conference,” said co-chair Diana Davon, a junior from Chicago. “What was nice was a lot of
people stepped in at the end, willing to give us money or help us out and support us. Organizing the students was really difficult, but we had our
advisors to help us out along the way, which really helped us. Meeting with other departments to let them know why we were doing this really
helped us not only with budgeting, but also with knowing that we would have their support overall.”
And it also allowed peers to empower other peers.
“I am trying to give resources that I wish I had and also let people know that there are resources for them and that it is okay to ask for help,”
Davon said. “They can find help on campus and for those people who are not educated about it to know that these resources will always be
available to them. I want to create a better community for them as well, to feel unified. We’re just letting them know that they can count on us
and build the community here through this conference and meeting other leaders.”
Out of the isolation comes community thanks to the La Mujer Latina conference.
By Jonathan Gramling
The UW-Madison campus is a big place that can be awfully
intimidating. Along with its 43,338 students and 21,752 faculty and
staff, if it stood on its own, it would be the eighth-largest city in
Milwaukee, larger than the city of Oshkosh.
For any student, the sheer size of the campus can be
overwhelming. But when you are a Latina student, the isolation can
be overwhelming as well. It can almost seem like a Latina is
attending a college in a foreign country, with most people speaking
a different language than the one you were brought up with and only
sometimes having another Latina in class with you. It may only be
through organized activities and organizations that you purposely
join in with people like yourself.
“For me, the conference gave me an opportunity to be able to see
other Latinas who look like me, to be able to find network, to find
and see my mentors who mentored me come to these types of
events and really see why it is important to be in a community like