El Centro Latino’s outreach galas

Photo courtesy of ALPFA

El Centro Latino, one of many clubs at Bellevue College, is teaming up with the Latino community to network and form relationships with prominent Latino business people in Washington State.  They were invited to participate in two different galas this last weekend as a means of furthering their connections with the Latino community.

On Friday, they participated in the Latino Community Fund Gala,  which took place from 6:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., at the Arctic Hotel in Seattle. “This is an opportunity to network with Latino business people,” said Gabriela Gonzalez, student director of El Centro Latino. “There will be speakers, awards, scholarships. We’re building bridges with other associations outside of Bellevue College. We want to establish connections.”

On Saturday, they participated in the 7th Annual Gala, which was put on by the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA) Seattle. The Business Leadership Club participated as well.

The event began at 6:00 p.m. with a networking reception and moved on to an elaborate three-course dinner. This was followed by the keynote speaker, Jim Turley. More awards were given, as well as entertainment – specifically, dancing and Colombian style music. The event ended at 1:30 a.m.

“Each year they [The ALPFA] have an event. This year is focusing on Colombia,” said Gonzalez. “Last year the theme was Mexican, so they had Mexican food and dancing.”

El Centro Latino also works on outreaches outside of these galas throughout the year.

“We do a lot of outreaches. We’ve been to Sammamish High School, Highland Middle School…we went to a community center in Renton and talked to teens and their parents. We’ve also gone to Lake Washington High School…We talk about what it means to be a Latino in college,” said Gonzalez. “It’s cool that kids there are already thinking about going to college at such a young age.”

After developing contacts at different schools in these areas, the club is branching out to reach as many Latino communities as possible. “Our next targets are Issaquah and Renton. Right now we’re setting up contacts, looking at dates, getting ready to visit them.”

The club focuses on both outreach and cultural activities. “We try to keep it balanced. The club looks at events that celebrate our culture in the school. The program looks at outreaches in the community,” said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez has been director of El Centro Latino since March. “They convinced me,” she said with a laugh when asked how she came to be the director. “I wanted to be involved in school. Being the director helps the community. I decided to give it a try.”

El Centro Latino focuses on celebrating the Latino culture and traditions with the community, specifically Bellevue College. The club meets twice a week, on Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. and from 2:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., respectively. The meetings are held in room C211.

“You don’t have to be a Latino to be a member,” said Gonzalez. “We have lots of events in mind, with music and lots of good food. We try to create events with other clubs. We’re a pretty inclusive club.”