Tag Archives: Lambda Theta Nu

Sorority Motivates Middle School Girls at Leadership Conference

According to the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation, Latina high school graduation rates are lower than any other female racial or ethnic group in the U.S.

To increase graduation rates on a local scale, Lambda Theta Nu Sorority Inc. will host their second annual conference for San Francisco middle school girls at USF. The Latina Youth Leadership Conference (LYLC) provides middle school students with the education and tools to succeed in high school and pursue higher education. The conference, set for May 8th, is also a national service that all chapters of Lambda Theta Nu Sorority, Inc. are required to fulfill.

“Essentially we want to give them the leadership skills they need to succeed. We know that middle school is the prime time that Latinas get discouraged and either drop out of school later on or end up pregnant,” President Adriana Ponce-Jimenez said. “We want to show them that, ‘Hey, we were once in your shoes too, and if you believe in yourself and just work hard, good things can happen.’”

The sorority is expecting about 60 to 70 girls, from James Lick Middle School, Everett Middle School, and Martin Luther King of the San Francisco Unified School District. Apart from leadership skills, the conference’s goals are to promote higher education, provide positive role models, and enhance self-esteem and cultural pride.

Last year, the sorority held their first annual conference on May 9th 2009, and hosted about 42 girls. Last year’s president, Leandra Cartagena, said it was a good turnout considering it was their first LYLC. “We didn’t know how the San Francisco schools would respond to our invitations. We hoped for about 80 girls, but in the end some schools pulled out because they were either hesitant or were simply unresponsive.”

Of the 42 students, 70 percent were Latina, 10 percent were African American, and 20 percent were other ethnicities (Asian, Middle Eastern, and Caucasian).

Due to last year’s diverse turnout, the sorority openly welcomes female students of any cultural background that the middle schools are willing to provide. “We don’t want to be exclusive. We want any girl to benefit from this as possible, whether they’re Latina or not,” said Cartagena.

The conference will hold four workshops, highlighting college requirements and financial aid options, the magnitude of getting involved in high school, and the challenges girls face as minorities in a male-dominated society.

Ponce-Jimenez said that last year’s workshops were facilitated by professionals, including USF Dean of Students and Associate Vice President for University Life, Mary Wardell. “This year we’re trying something different by hosting the workshops ourselves, which means we have a lot more responsibility because we’re relying on ourselves to make the workshops successful.”

The sorority will also invite a group of Spanish-speaking only high school students, who were suggested by Gloria Escobar of Everette Middle School. Escobar is the coordinator of an after-school program for recently arrived students from foreign countries. Escobar asked Ponce-Jimenez, who is also the LYLC committee chair for the second time in a row, if there was any way the conference could be offered in Spanish.

“Of course we jumped on that right away. We also want to reach out to those girls, who have more of a challenge coming into a foreign educational system.”

The sorority will host workshops entirely in Spanish at least once during the day, for the Spanish-speaking only group. At main events, such as the morning college panel and the key- note speaker at lunch time, the girls will have a designated translator. “We don’t want to segregate them but we’d rather have them be in their own groups then get lost switching from English to Spanish,” Ponce-Jimenez said.

LYLC is part of the sorority’s national philanthropy called Tijeras (or scissors in English), which is defined as two blades pinned together. The Tijeras project strives to “cut” through barriers that stand in the way of Latino youth and their educational goals.

“We fundraise all year for this, including our annual benefit dinner that we recently had in March,” Ponce-Jimenez said. “This event would never happen without the generous contributions that people make. It’s heavily dependent on donations, and we thank them not for us, but for the girls that they are directly impacting.”

To make a donation for LYLC, contact Adriana Ponce-Jimenez at AmorouZAZ@yahoogroups.com

Heritage Festival Brings Dancing, Drums, And Culture

“We are the proud brown sisters of Lambda Theta Nu!” shouted three Latina USF students in Harney Plaza last Thursday, stomping their feet and clapping their hands in a traditional “stepping” routine.

The sisters of Lambda Theta Nu joined the Latina sorority at USF in order to celebrate their shared experience as female Latin American college students. For them, stepping is a way of showing pride in their sorority and their culture.

In another number, the Lamba Theta Nu sisters each took out a pair of machetes, which they rhythmically clanked together. The long silver blades created a loud clanking each time they touched, as the sisters danced in well-coordinated steps, creating a visual and audio performance. The machete dance was meaningful to the Lamda Theta Nu sisters; more than just a flashy show. Senior Anita Buitrago explained, “We wanted to show that women could also step with machetes.” The machete dance is a traditional Mexican art, usually performed by men to display their masculinity, according to Buitrago. The Latina students use the masculine dance as a source of female empowerment.

The San Francisco Taiko Dojo group performed a portion of their drum set at the Harney Nooner Heritage Festival on Friday.  Photo by Melissa Stihl/Foghorn

The San Francisco Taiko Dojo group performed a portion of their drum set at the Harney Nooner Heritage Festival on Friday. Photo by Melissa Stihl/Foghorn

Lambda Theta Nu was one of four culturally focused USF student groups to participate in the first Heritage Harney Nooner, sponsored by Campus Activities Board (CAB). CAB decided to bring these groups out to the center of campus that day to show the many cultures that make up the university. The event was wrapped up with a bang, literally, with the Japanese drumming, dancing, and martial arts of the  off-campus organization, San Francisco Taiko Dojo.

USF is home to roughly 20 culturally-focused clubs and Greek organizations. U.S. News and World Report ranked the University of San Francisco as one of the 20 most ethnically diverse universities in the country in the category “National Universities-Doctoral. CAB Music Director Evelyn Obamos wanted to bring this diversity into the forefront for an afternoon. “We have such a diverse school,” she said. “I think we should show it.” The festival invited clubs to perform a cultural song or dance, or just show up to promote their organization.

In addition to Lamda Theta Nu’s dance, another highlight performance was from Hui O Hawaii Club, which performed several Hula dances to celebrate the diverse culture of the Hawaiian Islands. The dances varied from slow, swaying hula to the rapid hip-shaking Tahitian dances. This diversity represents the Hawaiian islands, where, senior Mahe Lum said, “everyone is a mix of everything.” Lum is a quarter Hawaiian, a quarter Chinese, and half Filipino. She co-founded the Hui O Hawaii Club her freshman year because she wanted to have a “halau,” or hula family, like she had in Hawaii, where she began dancing at age six.

Other performances included a traditional Salvadorian dance performed by the Latin American Student Organization, where the male and female dancers donned elaborate costumes and acted out a love story, followed by a short hip hop performance by Kasamahan, a club for Filipino students.

The Heritage Harney Nooner also provided an opportunity for other culturally-focused clubs to mingle in the plaza, and attract new members. Junior Shelly Saini, events coordinator for the Indian Student Organization (ISO), said cultural clubs can help students feel a sense of community at a large and diverse school. “I knew I wanted to join an Indian club when I got to USF,” said Saini, who joined ISO her freshman year and has been involved ever since. “I wanted to get to know other Indians and learn more about the culture.” ISO holds events for different Indian holidays and promotes social justice issues. Saini also pointed out that members do not need to be of Indian descent to join ISO. She said, “Half our members are not even Indian; they are just interested in the culture.”

San Francisco Taiko Dojo performed last to give a sample of their full show, which they travel throughout the Bay Area and the world to perform. Dressed in black martial arts uniforms with purple belts and headbands, the Japanese drummers showed their art to be an exhilarating combination of pounding percussion, loud chanting and dramatic movements, including jumping and dancing around the drums as they played.

The event was successful in the eyes of CAB member Obamos, who began planning for it last semester with the help of the Culturally Focused Club Council. Obamos said she was just glad to see everyone out there enjoying themselves.

Those who want to see more cultural performances by USF students can look forward to Culturescape, a signature event of the International Student Association, which will take place Nov. 20 in the Presentation Theatre.