The dedication of a particular faculty member and the commitment of student leaders have supplemented the growth of the Organization for Latin American Students (OLAS) at Stevenson University. Faculty member Christine Noya, assistant professor of business communication, is passionate about the Hispanic and Latin culture.
In prior years, Noya lived in Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and Spain, so OLAS is very close to her heart. “I wouldn’t be the same person I am today if I hadn’t lived in Puerto Rico for so many years… I loved the warmth of the Puerto Rican people, and I loved the language. They embrace you, un abrazo (hug),” she said.
“When I was in Career Services, we had an intern from Puerto Rico, and her name was Wally Wiscovitch. She found herself very involved in school, but wanted an outlet for Spanish- speaking students,” said Noya. “I love almost every aspect of Hispanic culture… their love of life and their love of culture — it taught me how to express myself, and so our shared love of Hispanic culture began.”
Although Wiscovitch founded OLAS, Noya was the first moderator for the club. OLAS is student-driven, and its members care for one another like they are family.
Noya says her job as moderator is simple, since the students “are just so enthusiastic and knowledgeable.” The president this year is Lince Quintanilla, joined by vice president Ana Villa Abaca. Noya said, “These two are very creative and very organized young women.”
She added, “The goal of OLAS is to provide a space for students of Hispanic/Latin background so they can be comfortable with their culture and then share it as Hispanics and Latins.”
For Noya and the members of the club, knowledge of Hispanic life and music surrounding the culture is important. The club’s members are striving to share their culture by hosting events on campus. OLAS organized a dance that was attended by people from all over Baltimore. The club started in 2010 with two members and has grown to 23 active members. Villa Abaca is excited for the spring semester when they will have their second annual Latin Escape dance. Villa Abaca said that Hispanic music, dance lessons, food, and more will be provided.
OLAS meets every Wednesday at 6 p.m. on the fourth floor of the School of Business. The club is open to anyone who is a student at Stevenson University.