Illinois State University’s Latino Alumni Network (LAN) was established as a way to connect with a fast-growing segment of the University’s alumni population. In the past two years LAN has quickly gained momentum, attracting an increasing number of alumni to events, and engaging with current Latino students on campus.

Illinois State has nearly 3,000 Latino alumni, with more than 60 percent of that number having graduated since 2000. “The Latino Alumni Network is a great way for our alumni to stay connected with Illinois State and connected with each other,” said Jaime Flores ’80, the organization’s president and former member of Illinois State’s Board of Trustees. “LAN is now in its second year, but we’re really building visibility and attracting a growing number of people to our events.”

The word network is truly a cornerstone of LAN’s mission. Flores said that the group provides opportunities for alums to meet each other and to establish beneficial social and professional contacts. “LAN is truly open to all alumni, not exclusively Latinos,” said Flores. “In fact, we want to engage the entire Illinois State community and be a resource for engaging not only alumni, but faculty, staff, and students.”

In addition to its alumni officers, LAN’s leadership network reflects that commitment to the larger University community. The organization draws from faculty and staff ranks and student representatives from groups such as the Association of Latin American Students (ALAS) and Latino Greek organizations.

Initial meetings to establish the network were held in 2013. A Latino alumni social, held in May 2014 at Flores’ restaurant, The Tamale Hut Café in North Riverside, helped to launch LAN activities. In addition to alumni events, LAN members have helped with Redbird Ready, talking with prospective Latino students about college preparation; have networked with current Illinois State students; and participated in the ALAS end-of-year formal event in May. LAN will also take part in a number of events during this year’s Homecoming celebration.

LAN’s efforts to bring alumni together to support current Illinois State students are paying off–quite literally. “Last year LAN members raised over $6,000 for Latino student scholarships at Illinois State,” said Flores. “This year we’re looking to raise $8,000 for scholarships.”

More information about the Latino Alumni Network is available online.