Latinx Alumni Association Newsletter Winter 2021

President’s Message

Photo of CWRU alumnus Hiram Cortez

“¡A jalar, que se ocupa!” 

Let’s get to work, because we need it.

In recent years in my home state of Nuevo Leon, Mexico, this phrase has become a common way to express a need for urgent action. Indeed, during the trying times we have faced over the last year, I have asked myself many times, “What can I do now to support our community?”

2020 was a painful year, as we mourned the lives lost to COVID-19 and police brutality and we carried in our hearts the thousands of families separated at the border. Then this month, just when we thought 2021 would bring relief, insurrectionists attacked the U.S. Capitol sparking fear about the future of our nation. 

While processing these tragic events, I have many times felt anger towards the people and systems responsible for them. During those moments, I remember the words of Maya Angelou expressing the importance of managing and transforming anger. She said, “You should be angry. You must not be bitter. Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. It doesn’t do anything to the object of its displeasure. So use that anger. You write it. You paint it. You dance it. You march it. You vote it. You do everything about it.” Guided by these words, if you have also felt anger recently, I encourage you to note it and, in your own way, turn it into something that strengthens you, your family and your community.

I also take this opportunity to encourage you to prioritize your self-care and your wellbeing. Whether that means choosing a Netflix binge instead of the news, becoming addicted to Among Us (like I did), cancelling a meeting, turning down a project, going for a walk, spending time with loved ones. Remember: your self-preservation is important.

Even though we cannot meet in person yet, I hope that the CWRU Latinx Alumni Association (LAA) can serve both as an escape and as an avenue for creating a more just and equitable world. Although our focus is serving CWRU alumni and students, our impact can be far-reaching since our diverse CWRU familia resides all over the world and intersects with many networks.  

As the 2021-2022 term of the LAA starts, below is some valuable information about upcoming events and activities. I especially ask for your participation in the alumni survey as your responses will be invaluable in shaping the LAA during this term. Thank you for taking a moment to read this newsletter. I look forward to hopefully speaking with you soon! 

-- Hiram

Welcoming the New Board

Congratulations to the new Latinx Alumni Association board for the term starting January 1, 2021 and ending December 31, 2022! 

President: Hiram Cortez (CWR’15)
Vice President: Wilmel Cosme (CWR ‘18)
Secretary: Andrew Jimenez (CWR ‘19) 
Treasurer: Galilea Sanchez (MGT ‘16, ‘17)
Director: Daniela Aguilera (MGT ‘19) 
Director: Esmeralda Terrazas (CWR ‘19)
Director: Xavier Murillo (MGT ‘17)
Director: Mirna Martinez (SAS ‘20)
Director: Justine Bernacet (CWR ‘18)
Director: Andrew Torres (CWR ‘16)

An additional Director position is currently vacant and will be filled over the next several weeks. 

Cafecito with the Board

Join the new board of directors and other fellow alumni + friends for a Cafecito on Thursday, February 25 from 8pm - 9pm (EST). Grab your coffee, horchata, rumchata or other drink for this happy hour celebrating the new year!

This will be a great opportunity to discuss some of what the board is planning for this term. Additionally, we’ll have some virtual activities to catch up and build stronger connections.

Register Here

Hope to see you there!

Latinx Alumni Survey

Your input is important in shaping the Latinx Alumni Association for years to come! Please take a few minutes to complete the form below. The survey will ask you how the Latinx Alumni Association can best be of value to you.

By completing the form and including your email, you will be entered to win a $25 gift card!

Submit your Responses Here

You will also have the option to submit your responses anonymously.

Mentorship Initiative Update

During the Fall of 2020, the CWRU Latinx Alumni Association partnered with the Líderes CWRU program, led by Gina Maria Maldonado-Powers, Assistant Director of Student Advancement, to facilitate connections between Latinx alumni and first-year students. 

Líderes CWRU is a student success program designed specifically for undergraduate Latinx students who may benefit from a more culturally aware, hands-on approach to navigating a highly competitive institution. The program promotes community and belonging for Latinx students by enhancing academic skills, building self-efficacy, supporting career preparation. Students participate in weekly meetings that cover topics like time-management, test taking strategies, mental health, and they are connected with upper-class student mentors, faculty/staff mentors, and alumni mentors.  

Líderes CWRU and the CWRU Latinx Alumni Association joined forces to match 21 alumni/student pairs in November 2020. Alumni mentors serve as part of the student’s support network, helping guide their mentee through the undergraduate experience at CWRU. Mentors help their mentees get pipelined into support systems through the lens of a CWRU graduate and inform them of resources available to them.

Recently, we received student feedback that shows the impact the mentoring connections are already making. José Ángel Cantua, a current first year student at CWRU, shared that, “Being a mentee has allowed me to speak with some very knowledgeable and supportive people. Because my mentors have accomplished what I wish to accomplish, they know the steps I must take to achieve my goals. Most importantly, when I tell my mentors about my aspirations, they support me and give me advice.” 

We have also heard from mentors on their experience. Aliah Baez, (MGT 18), shared about her rewarding experience as a mentor, “I enjoy guiding someone through changes in their life. I want to provide anything I can, in ways that I wish someone guided me. It’s rewarding seeing your mentee become successful and achieve their goals.” 

Through the partnership between Líderes CWRU and the CWRU Latinx Alumni Association, we plan on implementing enhancements to next year’s cycle to further strengthen connections between mentorship pairs. As we prepare for the 2021-2022 cycle, your participation as an alumni mentor would be greatly valued! If you are interested in mentoring students through this program, please sign up here.

For any questions, feel free to reach out to Hiram Cortez at

Student Spotlight - Escúchanos

Last fall, students from La Alianza and SHPE and alumni from the Latinx Alumni Association came together to create a video series project called Escúchanos, which means “Listen to us” in Spanish. The project consisted of a short series of videos published on The Observer during Latinx Heritage Month highlighting the stories of Latinx students and alumni. Through the project, we aimed to elevate stories about the student experience that perhaps do not always get told or heard.

Interviews included:

Iran Susa, Class of 2022

Yoshmar Pinal Alfaro, Class of 2021

Freddie Sanabria, Class of 2021, Transfer

Andrew Torres (CWR ‘16)

Visit to watch the series! The playlist of videos is found on the right column of the web page or on youtube here.

A special thank you to Justine Bernacet (CWR ‘18) and Vianni Bustos (CWR ‘21) for envisioning this project and bringing it to fruition. 

Homecoming Recap

Thank you for joining Homecoming 2020! Although virtual, we held three engaging virtual events between October 8 and October 11, 2020. 

  • On Thursday, October 8, we held the inaugural event of our new series: In Conversation with… which aims to have meaningful conversations with Latinx Alumni who are leaders in their field. Beto Gonzalez Campos (CWR ’18; GRS ‘20, mechanical engineering), moderated an inspiring conversation with Dr. Marla Pérez-Davis (GRS ‘91, chemical engineering), Director of NASA Glenn Research Center. Dr. Marla Pérez-Davis discussed her leadership journey and encouraged CWRU Latinx alumni and students to continue pursuing their career goals.
  • On Saturday, October 10, in a session led by Andrew Torres (CWR ’16) and titled Dismantling Anti-Blackness in the Latinx Community, CWRU students, faculty, staff and alumni discussed the entrenched anti-black racism that exists within the Latinx community, how our groups and organizations on campus and in the broader community can help dismantle it, and what actions we can take as individuals to elevate our anti-racist work.
  • On Sunday, October 11, we held our traditional homecoming brunch to announce the new board of directors. Congratulations to the new board! Remember to join the Cafecito with the Board on Thursday, February 25 from 8pm - 9pm (EST) to get to know the new board members. Register Here

We are aiming to continue elevating our homecoming programming for 2021 and 2022. Please reach out to if you would be willing to serve on the Homecoming Programming Committee.