The Center for Multicultural Student Services put on another stellar event last Thursday, October 1st, as part of their celebrations for Latinx Heritage Month. For this event, the CMSS team invited five JMU alums to take part in a Latinx Alumni Panel. The students in attendance had the opportunity to speak with the group of grads via Zoom and ask questions about their JMU experiences, careers, and their thoughts on current events.
The event started with a brief introduction from CMSS staff, as well as University Career Center staff member Collen Waller, who gave some advice to students regarding career questions. From there, the team of student hosts took the reins and introduced themselves. All three hosts were members and officers of the Latinx Student Alliance, a group on campus that provides a forum for Latinx individuals to meet others with similar cultural backgrounds, as well as participate in philanthropy, social events, and network with fellow students and alums.
The hosts introduced the lineup of panelists to the eager students. The group of alumni was very diverse, not just in terms of cultural backgrounds, but also in their majors, post-college plans, and career paths. Two panelists worked in higher education, one as an adviser and another as an admissions counselor, and both were working on their master’s degrees. Another panelist was a lawyer working for a litigation firm, and one was a shoe designer at Reebok. Their different experiences and diverse opinions made for a well-balanced conversation about topics ranging from how to be involved on campus to the best ways to prepare for a job interview.
The majority of the event was dedicated to the panelists taking questions from the audience, many of which were career related. Students were very curious about how to go about searching for jobs, how well their majors were preparing them for careers, and how to start networking and meeting other professionals. Many were also curious about the benefits of going to graduate school and how to find the right school and programs. These big existential questions garnered a lot of different responses, but all the panelists seemed to echo the same sentiment: development after college is not always a straight path, and there are going to be a lot of twists and turns and decisions that will lead you to where you want to be. It might take new months, or a few years, but everyone gets there eventually.
Academics and careers were not the only topics that the panelists and students discussed. A couple of students had questions pertaining to the theme of cultural identity, and what place it has in your life during and after college. One student asked a very poignant question about the idea of minorities assimilating, and forgetting their cultures in order to fit in or succeed. It’s an issue that many of the Latinx students and panelists alike could relate to, and the answers given were just as impactful as the question. The advice they left students: take time and figure out who you are, what you like, and try to put yourself in those communities. Like most of life, this is easier said than done, but the positive impact it has on the individual is long lasting.
Though Latinx Heritage Month is coming to an end, CMSS is still working year-round to promote diversity on campus through a number of different programs. Make sure to check out their website by clicking here, and check out their social media pages! It’s @jmucmss on Instagram and Twitter.