Student Group President Helps Keep Hispanic, Latin American Culture Alive on Merrimack Campus

Jasmine Gonzalez, president of the Association of Latinos Moving Ahead, says she aims to host at least one event each week for students.
Photo of Jasmine Gonzalez ’23.
Jasmine Gonzalez ’23, president of Association of Latinos Moving Ahead, (ALMA) at Merrimack College.

As a child of Dominican Republic immigrants, Jasmine Gonzalez ’23 said coming to Merrimack College was a bit of a culture shock.

So, she decided to foster her own Hispanic and Latin American community on campus. During her freshman year in 2020, Jasmine joined the College’s then-rebranded Hispanic and Latin American club, ALMA – Association of Latinos Moving Ahead.

“It was good to build a space on campus for people that are Hispanic/Latinx, especially because we have a lot of students from Lawrence, to continue to feel that culture at the school,” said Jasmine.

Within weeks of joining, to her surprise, Jasmine was named president of the organization.

“I just wanted to be a part of the club,” she recalled. “I ended up being on the executive board, now I’m the president.”

Peter Rojas, assistant dean of intercultural initiatives, spearheaded ALMA’s creation three years ago.

“I saw much potential and eagerness from Jasmine as a first year here at Merrimack,” Rojas said. “That made me more than comfortable putting her in a leadership position. By providing this space for her to cultivate and grow as a leader, Jasmine has not missed any opportunity to bring awareness and advocate for the Latinx community.”

Under Jasmine’s leadership, ALMA has become one of the most active student groups on campus. 

“We try to host events every week if we can,” she said. “We want it to be very constant so people know we’re here.”

In February, she hosted a Dominican Republic Independence Day party with traditional Dominican food, music, candy and desserts. She also partnered with Merrimack Dining to serve Dominican dishes during lunchtime at Sparky’s.

Over the years, ALMA has earned two awards from the Office of Student Involvement – a Swag Award in 2021 for “what we bring to table,” as Jasmine described, and the Student of the Year Award in 2022 that recognized the entire group for its hard work and dedication.

“Even if you do not identify as Latin American or Hispanic you can still join the club to learn about different cultures, languages, food and music,” she said.

ALMA and the Honors Program are hosting an event called “Pop-up Bachata” at the Honors Commons on Wednesday, March 22, from 6 to 7 p.m. For more information, visit instagram.com/alma_merrimack.

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