The Upsilon Chapter of Lambda Theta Phi at Seton Hall currently has just three undergraduate members. However, despite its small size, the organization continues to thrive and spread its mission of advocating for and uniting Latino students.
Adrian Orozco, a senior political science major and president of the organization, said, “Organizations like ours, whether it be a black or Latino Greek letter organization, they all have a commitment to advancing their own communities.”
Orozco added that being a brother of Lambda Theta Phi has done just that for him. At the end of his sophomore year, he participated in a fully-funded internship program in Washington, D.C., through Lambda Theta Phi’s national philanthropy, the National Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. With this program, interns are placed in congressional offices, mostly for Latinos such as Congressman Albio Sires, where Orozco worked. “As someone that was never gonna afford that, that program gave me the opportunity to enter into my career field,” Orozco said.
The chapter also awards the Walter Cespedes Memorial Scholarship to one or two freshmen at the end of every summer in order to advance anyone who demonstrates financial need and meets the GPA requirement.
Kenneth Herrera, a junior history major, said that being a brother of Lambda Theta Phi has also advanced him, especially in his role as the chapter’s community service and philanthropy chair. “When I came from high school, I really didn’t have any experience,” Herrera said. “I didn’t know how to come up with programs, what steps do you do to present a program, to implement it, make it real. It really did refine me as an individual.”
Lambda Theta Phi also focuses on uniting the Latino community, something important to Julian Manzano, a junior business finance and marketing major and the organization’s secretary and treasurer.
“As I was growing up, I wasn’t very in touch with my Latino roots,” Manzano said.
However, according to Manzano, Lambda Theta Phi has given him the opportunity to connect with his heritage as well as other students with events such as their semesterly bachata night, empanada and t-shirt sales along with educational events surrounding Latino activism, like the upcoming session on organized crime in Essex County on Dec. 5.
“We do have a lot of socially aware events, we like to also co-sponsor events that are like that,” Manzano said. “I haven’t done that a lot in my younger years, so when I came to college, being able to do that was very fulfilling for me.”
Orozco hails from a predominately Hispanic community and said he was drawn to joining the fraternity after realizing it would provide him with a niche like home while at Seton Hall.
Herrera echoed the same sentiments of community. His heritage, he said, was something he put aside during his childhood, but wanted to tap into when he came into college.
He said, “The biggest thing that I got was a larger sense of community because even though everyone had their own lives and things they have to do, the community expanded because we all had particular ideas or principles or visions that we all commonly shared and we all worked together to reinforce and really make those visions and ideals real.”
Alyssa Schirm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.