Serna Center hosts ‘La Bienvenida,’ a celebration of Sac State’s Latinx community

Latinx Student Clubs and resources showcased


Erick Amaya

(Left to right) Joel Santiago, Dr. Viridiana Diaz and Noel Mara discuss different Latinx clubs and resources offered at Sacramento State on Wednesday, Sept.15, 2021, for “La Bienvenida.” While the event was held online, Mara expressed joy to be back on campus.

Erick Amaya

The Serna Center hosted their annual “La Bienvenida”  event, focused on showcasing Latinx clubs and resources at Sacramento State. Held virtually on Zoom, it welcomed students back to campus on Sept 15. 

Serna Center Coordinator Noel Mora opened the event by introducing himself and said the purpose of “La Bienvenida” was to bring the Hornet family together.  

“[It’s meant] for, whether new or returning, students to connect with other students,” Mora said.

Mora went on to thank event partners: Latinx Alumni Center, College Assistance Migrant Program, Chicanx/Latinx Faculty and Staff Association, Dreamer Resource Center, Education Equity Program and Transfer Peer Coaches. Student clubs present were Club de Español, Mujeres Ayudando la Raza , Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and Alpha Psi Lambda.

Mora had several speakers from the various resource programs and other university departments like Dr. Viridiana Diaz, vice president of Strategic Student Support Programs. Diaz expressed what it meant to her to be able to be back on campus for this semester. 

“It’s a reminder of why we’re here, why we do what we do, and you [students] being here continues to reinforce that for us,” she said. 

Students like Joel Santiago, a sociology major, said how organizations like CAMP helped him make his way at Sac State. 

For Santiago, higher education was never on his radar. But, after getting involved in gang affiliated activities his senior year of high school, he changed course. He left his hometown of Ukiah, California, and came to Sac State. 

“I won’t deny that when I first set foot on campus I questioned what I was doing here,” he said. “I felt alone and like I did not belong.”

As a first generation student, he explained how he had no idea what college was about but found support within CAMP. His experience soon changed when he was introduced to CAMP and met other students with similar backgrounds as him. He said CAMP helped him be more outgoing to socialize with others.   

Diaz also highlighted that Sac State was awarded by Excelencia in Education, an organization that focuses on increasing the number of Latinx students who succeed in higher education. Sac State is one of only two California State Universities to earn this award. The other is California State University, Channel Islands. 

Vice President of Student Affairs Ed Mills said last year was very quiet, and he is glad to have in-person classes again.

“Campuses are meant to be full of people and to be in places to engage and build a community,” he said. “It was really heartbreaking to miss all that last year.” 

President Robert Nelsen followed Mills’ speech, emphasizing that Sac State is one big family. 

“This is your home,” Nelsen said. “This is where you belong. This is where you matter. This is where you will be seen. We are here to help you.”

“La Bienvenida” continued with breakout rooms that allowed student clubs and resources to give presentations on their programs. Attendees were able to attend three different presentations of seven available. The breakout rooms were composed of Club de Español, MAR, SHPE, Alpha Psi Lambda, Education Equity Program, Transfer Peer Coaches, and Latinx Alumni Association. 

“It’s really an honor for us to be able to do this,” Mora said. “Welcome. Bienvenidos to Sac State.” 

To learn more about the Latinx resources available at the Serna Center visit the River Front Center on campus.