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The Carolina Latina/o Collaborative (CLC) officially kicked off the school year with its annual Week of Welcome Open House on Monday, August 17, welcoming over 100 students, faculty and staff. The CLC, located in the Craige North Seminar Wing, was filled with excitement and enthusiasm about the upcoming academic year.

DSC_0667New and transfer students had the opportunity to network and socialize with current undergraduates, faculty, and staff. As part of CLC’s commitment to developing a greater awareness of Latina/o issues, cultures and identities and building collaborative relationships across campus and the communities, the Open House serves as a space for students to explore the Latina/o community at UNC through learning about organizations: La Unidad Latina, Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity, Inc., Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad, Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc., Omega Phi Beta, Sorority, Inc., Students United for Immigrant Equality (SUIE), and the Carolina Hispanic Association (CHispA)., academic programs and immersion opportunities to enrich their Carolina journey.

Associate Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Multicultural Affairs (DMA) and Chief Diversity Officer, Dr. Taffye Benson Clayton welcomed students and encouraged them to continue to participate in the many learning and growth offerings of the CLC. Study Abroad advisor Rodney Vargas and director of the Program in Latina/o Studies Dr. María DeGuzmán introduced their programs and discussed ways in which students could increase their awareness and engagement with Latina/o issues.

First year students also had the opportunity to sign up for the Latina/o Mentoring Program (LMP). LMP matches all incoming first year Latina/o students with current undergraduates students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members.

“Open House is one of the highlights of the year for us to create community, welcome everyone the wonderful space and showcase Latina/o culture at Carolina,” said Josmell Perez, Assistant Director for Multicultural Programs and Carolina Latina/o Collaborative at DMA.

CLC Open House group pictureCarolina senior and former CLC intern, Cecilia Polanco introduced her family-centered, innovative social change entrepreneurial venture – So Good Papusas. Polanco, whose family immigrated from El Salvador, started this food truck and catering business with her family to create community partnerships with local homecooks and has plans to use the profits to start a foundation that will provide scholarships for undocumented students to attend college. Polanco’s family provided a tasting of their inspiring culinary venture for the participants.

“If you really want to make a difference, you work with what you have. I have my family, I have papusas, and I have you [the customer] – I am going to make them work for me. You have the next few years to think about how you can make a difference, this is your Carolina and you can be the change,” said Polanco.

For more information about Latina/o culture at UNC-Ch or the CLC, please visit

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