Pomona College Magazine
Volume 41. No. 2.
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Pomona College Magazine is published three times a year by Pomona College
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A voice for Latino Alumni
The Latino Alumni Affinity Group

After Francisco Duenas '99 and his fellow Latino classmates graduated, two questions kept circulating through their conversations: How could they stay connected to Pomona, and what could they contribute to the College as alumni?

 "We wanted to find rewarding ways to give back, whether that's to current students, the administration, the College itself or to our own Latino communities as representatives of Pomona," Duenas says. "The concerns we had as students we still share as alumni. As Latino students, many of us were interested in having professors of color. Just because we are alums doesn't mean we don't care. Secondly, we asked what role we can play as alumni to help current students with current projects. There's no office for that. No one necessarily maintains those connections or ties."

Duenas and his friends decided to take action. Together they created an e-mail list. They gathered two dozen former classmates and 10 current students at Duenas' Los Angeles apartment. There was consensus at this 2005 meeting that they needed a new community to keep Latino alums firmly connected to the College.

"We felt as Latino alums, there's a need to have a voice, and we felt our opinions could add value to larger dialogue," he says. Duenas, Carlos Solorio '99 and Vickie Ramos '98 approached the Alumni Relations Office, and the Latino Alumni Affinity Group (LAAG) was born. Today, LAAG has more than 75 members in their Yahoo group at Pomona_latinos@yahoogroups.com.

From its inception, LAAG has focused on strengthening the voices that its Latino members gained at Pomona.

"On campus there are several different ways people who are Latino might find their voice ... [Studies] are just one avenue, just like the actual Latino student group is another avenue. Maybe another is a service community group that does work in local Latino communities," says Duenas.

The group's first event was a Latino alumni mixer during the 2005 Alumni Weekend. Since then, the group has been involved in the Career Development Office's career week program with alumni speaking about the transition from college, as well as mentoring individual students. Latino alumni have also been involved in the Minority Student Action Program weekend for prospective students.

 "Anytime we can get alums to assist with prospective students, we really appreciate it," says Gary Kelly, associate dean of Admissions. "They've been very, very active and willing to make themselves available to prospective and current students. They make themselves available if students want to pick their brain." -- Molly Berman '07
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