“Latinas Unidas” club fosters community, celebrates diversity of the Latinx experience
The first thing you should know about Latinas Unidas is that it’s a group effort. Unusually, there are five club co-heads—Ale Casillas ’21, Adrianna Greenup ’21, Natalia Rodriguez ’21, Stephanie Rodriguez ’21 and Mariana Trujillo ’21. Their 30-member club represents a broad mix of the Latinx community with connections to Ecuador, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Brazil, Columbia, Spain, and Mexico. But like the name “Unidas” suggests, this group is all about being unified, showing solidarity even while celebrating differences.
Ale Casillas ’21 describes her fellow group members this way, “All of us have beautiful traditions to contribute in the upcoming year, truly reflecting the diversity of the Latinx community.” Co-head Stephanie Rodriguez ’21 concurs: “I believe that being able to all collaborate together and bring different ideas to the table makes the club stronger and more diverse.”
In honor of Latinx Heritage Month, the Student Diversity Leadership Council recently hosted an all-school assembly in conjunction with Latinas Unidas. Like many Mayfield students, members of the SDLC and Latinas Unidas teams have upped their game when it comes to digital presentations, and their entire assembly was hosted on a Google Slide. From this landing page, viewers could click from section to section, introduced by students, with curated video and text content which covered Afro-Latinx culture, Latinx Artists and Latinx Holidays. It even explored the important distinction between terms like “Hispanic” and “Latinx.” Although the presentation was educational, it was also energetic, and the joyous approach was incredibly welcoming and inclusive. And explicitly mentioning several pieces of virtuosic Latinx art gave the wider Mayfield community a chance to do some deep artistic dives later on.
“The importance of the presentation was for others to learn about the culture, promote diversity, and have a bigger appreciation for it,” says Mariana. “I definitely feel like we accomplished that.”
Many members have been involved in the club for years, but the five co-heads see an important role they can play for freshmen in particular, who have never attended a Mayfield class in person, or met any of their fellow members face-to-face. They feel driven to make sure this club offers a nurturing environment, in which younger members can tap into a sense of empowerment and embrace their leadership skills.
“Since we are remote it is challenging to feel a sense of community, especially for the freshmen since they have never been to campus,” says Mariana. “We want these girls to learn about the heritage and culture of Latinx as well as being able to express who they are.”
Director of Admissions (and Mayfield mom) Merilisa Ramirez, who serves as an advisor to this group, has seen incredible strides in their accomplishments so early in the academic year. “These girls are truly motivated,” says Ms. Ramirez, who has seen first-hand the unique challenges that 2020 has presented for students. “I know how difficult it is to maintain a community while not being on campus together,” she says. “But these girls have a lot to teach us all about the power of determination and collaboration—and unity.”
Established in 1931, Mayfield Senior School in Pasadena, CA is a Catholic, independent, college preparatory school for young women grades 9-12. Noted for its rigorous academic program, which includes 28 Advanced Placement and Honors courses, Mayfield’s curriculum is underscored by a philosophy of educating the “whole child,” which also encourages commitment to and excellence in the arts, athletics, community service and spiritual growth. The nurturing environment at Mayfield Senior School allows each student to flourish in an atmosphere of personal attention.