Roberto C. Villanueva – Cornell University, Alpha Chapter
I never wanted to be part of a fraternity. The only images I had of fraternities were from Animal House and from stories of pledges being paddled or forced to consume alcohol. As a first generation Latino who was aspiring to become a future community leader, and Latino who had witness too many acts of violence against other Latinos, hazing was completely unacceptable. What drew me to La Unidad Latina was that it offered something completely different.
I must admit that as a first year student at Cornell University, I found myself a little lost and in need of academic as well as social support. I sought out people like me with similar backgrounds and similar interests. I joined the Latino student association and became a liaison for that organization. In this position I managed to interact with other Latino organizations. From this I noticed that many LUL Hermanos held officer positions in student organizations. Such leadership impressed me but it did not completely convinced me to join. Then it happened, I witnessed the true meaning of this organization. As I helped out a Latino student party, the Hermanos of LUL were collecting donations for Hurricane Hugo relief effort. This image was incredible. While others were partying, LUL was doing community service. I must have worn my feelings on my sleeves that night because an Hermano approached me and asked me if I wanted to help. In time this Hermano helped me understand the organization and how it did not follow the traditional fraternity model. Finally, I had found others, who were concerned about the Latino community, so I joined. After I joined, I learned that in addition to be leaders who wanted to help impoverished communities, Hermanos really cared about me and my well being. In my nine years with La Hermandad I have found academic and professional support, a true brotherhood and individuals committed to helping out our community.
I pledged La Unidad Latina my sophomore year in college because quite honestly, I was impressed with the caliber of men that were already a part of the organization. A lot of people talk a good game when it comes to giving back to their community but the Hermanos actually lived up to their claim. The sincerity of the Hermandad and the willingness that these men had to work towards a greater goal were truly inspiring. I could tell from my interactions with them that the bonds formed within La Unidad Latina were ones to stand the test of time and were indeed “Para Siempre.” This group of men were about more than just throwing parties or wearing letters in fact, I don’t even remember anyone in the chapter ever wearing letters during my time as an interest. La Fraternidad had something “more” to offer than what I had been previously exposed to in the Boston area.
It’s quite funny actually how I became an Hermano of La Unidad Latina. Prior to me there had been only one Hermano from my school, Jose Vera, who pledged during the spring of 1997 and who also lived in Chocolate City. It had been six years since an Hermano has been on my campus. The undergrads in the Boston area reaffirmed my faith in finding people as committed as myself to academic achievement, community service, and cultural awareness. One would think that not having any Hermanos on my campus would deter me from pledging; it was quite the opposite I was eager to bring LUL to my campus. I have not regretted my decision since and although I knew that most of the Hermanos were graduating soon after, I developed very strong ties within my chapter as well as my 66 line brothers across the nation. The chapter alums and undergrads have a very tight relationship with one another and I can attest that la Fraternidad is not something you do just for four years while you’re in college. These are my brothers in the truest sense and I am proud to be among their ranks.
The preceding quote exemplifies why I and other men became Hermanos at the Epsilon Chapter of our Fraternidad. I personally chose La Fraternidad because I visualized what positive changes I could bring about in the Latino community on and off campus. Consequently, united with other men by our common goals, we influenced change, created and organized councils and student clubs, and defied other organizations by having our first Noche Dorada. In essence, we became the leaders of the new school setting the standards of excellence. But some of my greatest feats were not as a Brother of La Unidad Latina, but humbly as an active member of Latino student clubs, in which many Hermanos besides myself held integral positions that gave the clubs direction and its events substance. In my golden days as an Undergraduate, our theme was Domination. Do all you can do, to bring positive change via La Fraternidad and/or student clubs. Needless to say, Epsilon Chapter won La Copa Dorada that year for the Fraternity’s best overall chapter. And it was entirely motivated by Che Guevarra’s quote above, making us realize that for our Brotherhood to be the best, we had to do our best to bring positive changes on campus.
I wasn’t very interested in pledging a fraternity at all when I got to Brown. It wasn’t even really a thought in my mind since I had no clue that Latino fraternities and sororities existed, and my opinion of fraternities in general was not very high. Upon arriving at Brown, and meeting some of the people who helped conduct the freshmen orientation, I was surprised to learn that Brown had both a Latino fraternity and a Latina sorority.
Just the idea of having a Latino fraternity piqued my curiosity and interest. I got to know the various members of both organizations through work for the various Latino organizations and Latino events, but I wasn’t compelled to become a part of such an organization during my freshmen year. I was still open to the idea of joining a Latino fraternity, and was also interested in investigating other organizations until my second semester, when planning for Brown’s Latino History Month proved to be a contentious and fractious issue among the various Latino student groups. It seemed that there was an inability for Latino groups at Brown to unite and work together, even for a common cause. It confirmed my fears that bringing yet another organization on campus would only increase the division between organizations and groups at Brown.
My friends and I gathered together some of our colleagues and we all sat down and talked with the Hermanos of Lambda Upsilon Lambda to find out more about the organization and to see if it was where we wanted to go, or if we would need to look elsewhere. I was more impressed after sitting down and talking with them, than I thought I would be. After our initial conversation, I was confident that I would find and receive everything that I needed through Lambda Upsilon Lambda.”
As a Salvadoreno growing up in Los Angeles, my culture was very important. However, my culture was what made me different from the Mexicanos, Guatemaltecos, Hondureanos, and the rest of the dense Latino filled Los Angeles population. When I became privileged to attending a prep school in the State of New Hampshire, my world of who I really was became open to me. Latinos have achieved many things, but alone, Latinos can do very little. High school was the playground that taught me that not only am I the son of El Salvador, but also the child of Latino ancestors, whom ever they may be. College was the field that showed me that I was not alone. My beliefs on Latinos issues were always strong, but when I found a LATINO Fraternity that shared my views, my beliefs became stronger. I am now part of a solid movement whose goal is to improve the quality of life de nuestra gente. So am I a Lambda? I’ll tell you this…. I’m a proud Lambda.
I chose La Unidad Latina, Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity, INC. because of the brotherhood and commitment to the Latino community exemplified by the Hermanos on my campus. Furthermore, what attracted me to La Fraternidad was its emphasis on leadership. It is this leadership that separated us from the rest! As Latinos embarking upon the new millennium, leadership is an attribute that does not find many. When a brother became Student Government president of Syracuse University and the first Latino to hold office, I was convinced that these gentlemen were men of honor. Since I have been an Hermano, I have experienced what brothers should experience- compassion, sincerity, anger, joy, humility and finally love. Whether I was playing ball, visiting a chapter or just bumping into a random Hermano, there was a connection. This is what I sought and found. Also, there are a number of alumni Hermanos who were very well established in their respective occupation. Hence, I noticed we were not just a fraternal organization of students, but eventually professionals.
Bottom line, LUL is the best and I will only associate myself with the best.
Manuel Berrelez – Yale University, Kappa Chapter
La Unidad Latina has helped me to understand that essential to becoming a good leader is learning how to be a great listener.
Pedro Garcia – Rider University, Xi Chapter
I was attracted to the level of consistency, professionalism, and commitment exemplified by the Hermanos I had met! They were still involved even (in some cases) after pledging more than 10-11 years ago.
I recently got a job at a biotech company and they told me that the candidates all had practically the same qualifications and some even had more educational experience than I did, but they chose me because of my community involvement, of being a founding Hermano at my chapter, and for the leadership and focus that I exemplify. I love la Fraternidad….Para Siempre.
Jesus Diaz, Jr. – New York University, Omicron Chapter
“I pledged La Unidad Latina in the Fall ’96 semester at NYU, much to my parent’s dismay at the time. Ever since then I have gone on to lead several organizations on campus and my previous job was received through a fraternity brother’s recommendation to a friend. Having seen the benefits of my association with the fraternity, my parent’s perceptions about fraternities has changed dramatically for the better, over these past three years.”
Bernardo Perez – SUNY New Paltz, Pi Chapter
During my college career, I always heard the words from people’s mouth that stated: “give back to your community.” In the early years of Pi Chapter at SUNY New Paltz it became apparent that two strong forces, products of La Unidad Latina, were doing just that. I, Hermano Bernardo F. Perez and Hermano Hector L. Morell took our experience from La Unidad Latina and became leaders of other organizations that represented the Latino community. For the years of hard work and commitment to their community, our Hermanos were recognized by the New Paltz community as a whole and graduated in 1995 with honors, leaving a legacy of great changes within their community that will never be forgotten.
Luis Ortiz – SUNY New Paltz, Pi Chapter
Joining a fraternity for me was something extraordinary, especially a Latino fraternity. I was really not involved in any extra-curricular activities except maybe the men’s varsity volleyball team and I was not really in tune with my background and culture. What made me interested in La Unidad Latina were not its goals in entirety it was more the determination that the Hermanos at New Paltz had to follow through with the goals of this organization. There were only two Hermanos on the campus. These two individuals were able to make La Unidad Latina known all across the campus and most of all known to the administration at the University. This was something that really intrigued me, two Latino men so determined and dedicated to follow goals that they truly believed in, and that was the goals of this fraternity, and to realize those goals above and beyond the expectations of anyone. Meanwhile, other organizations (Latino based) on campus had 5-10 members, struggled and needed help in organizing. This was what made La Unidad Latina a magnet towards my interests, as well as it being a gateway for me to find out about my culture and myself. It has definitely made me a better person and above all a leader. If it were not for me joining La Unidad Latina my determination to realize my personal goals would not be as strong. La Unidad Latina embeds such strong leadership and self-worth qualities within us that for anyone of our Hermanos, becoming president of the United States would be just another goal.
I grew up in a small town in the south, Lakeland, FL. I always felt different growing up, but I never consciously identified the importance of my Latino culture and how it set me apart from the society I lived in. Going to Duke, and being away from my family in very wispy and conservative environment forced me to examine the importance of my identity. It was a crisis of sorts, and I found myself gravitating towards people who were more like me. It led me to Mí Gente, Duke’s Latino student organization. When I was approached about joining the interest group for La Unidad Latina, I was initially skeptical. I didn’t see how forming a fraternity, of which I had a preconceived stereotypical image, would help Latinos or me on Duke’s campus. The more I learned about LUL, and the ideals it represented, and the closer I became to my future Hermanos, the more I was sold on the idea. Three of my future brothers and I drove to Syracuse for convention in spring of ’94. Along the way I became tighter with them, and after experiencing convention, we all knew LUL was an organization we wanted to be a part of.
As you know, pledging is difficult. Inherent in the process are many sacrifices. But now with the benefit of hindsight I can say that LUL opened countless opportunities for me. I had a network of brothers to depend on. I had new focus in my studies. I had new drive and purpose, and self-confidence born of weeks of sacrifice and knowing my Hermanos had my back. My first year in medical school was difficult, but I knew I would get through it because I felt I had been prepared. After 4 years as a brother, what I have left is a lifelong association with an organization I am honored to be a part of, and a debt to LUL I can never repay. Most of all, I have the bonds I formed with my line brothers which are the most precious to me.
Christopher Brandt – Duke University, Rho Chapter
I pledged La Unidad Latina in 1997, partly because my best friend at Duke was a brother and partly because I wanted to learn more about my mother’s Puerto Rican heritage. I have to say that pledging itself was one of the more rewarding parts of joining the fraternity. I learned a great deal about myself, my line brother, and people in general.
Since 1997, I have used the brotherhood as a springboard into other aspects of campus life. I’ve gotten involved in several campus organizations and committees, and I feel like I’ve made a positive impact on my environment. It has also been very satisfying to watch La Unidad Latina grow and make its presence felt at Duke. When I pledged, there were only four undergraduate brothers at Duke. This spring, two years later, there were nineteen active proud brothers in the family at Duke and UNC. I look forward to propagating that growth next year and contributing to la Hermandad during my professional life.
I joined La Unidad Latina in the Spring of my first year at Wesleyan. My interest in La Fraternidad was sparked in a conversation with Hermanos from Wesleyan and Yale as they described not only what Lambda Upsilon Lambda was, but also what they hoped it would become, and the positive changes an organization of educated professional Latino men could achieve for our community. I decided to become an Hermano after getting to know the Hermanos on campus, and witnessing them work on campus as leaders and men of character. Although they each demonstrated tremendous amounts of love and pride in their organization, they were all strong individuals. This past summer, I had the privilege of interning for our Honorary Hermanos Luis Miranda and Assemblyman Roberto Ramirez. The picture above is from the First Lady’s visit to Monroe College in the Bronx, NY as part her Listening Tour of New York State.
I will be graduating in May with a BA in Government and have recently completed a Honors Thesis on Latino Political Incorporation in New York. I can say without any hesitation that becoming an Hermano has been one of the best and most rewarding decisions I have made as an undergrad.
Miguel Guadalupe – Wesleyan University, Sigma Chapter
“I didn’t even know that there were Latino Greeks [when I got to college]. I assumed Latinos had to decide between those black greek and white greek organizations, both options that I refused to consider. Those images of greeks I had [from Hollywood] made me think that all people in fraternities and sororities were insecure, masochistic alcoholics, with a desperate need to belong.
On a mission, I sought out Latino males like myself who were actively involved in the community, who did not fit this stereotype. It turns out many of my classmates were also seeking just that, so in reality, we found each other. We began basically as a discussion group, talking about male issues, campus issues, and Latino issues. Soon however, we felt the need to institutionalize our connection. It was then that we began to look at fraternities. We researched, and were surprised to find the amount of organizations that were actually out there. Upon closer scrutiny, and through connections from within our group, we found that La Unidad Latina, Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity Inc best fit our needs and the need of the Latino Community at Wesleyan and in Middletown, Connecticut.”
Alexander J Breton – Omega Chapter
My experience as a Hermano of La Unidad Latina Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity Inc taught me how to solve problems. It taught me to evaluate circumstances, understand issues concerning those challenges and create new ideas to solve those problems. Being a Hermano helped me understand how to improve solutions through other people. It taught me about motivating others to identify problems and to work together to create solutions.
The Leadership development process was a remarkable experience! It was refreshing to meet so many dedicated and passionate leaders across the nation who is constantly seeking ways to improve their community. I learned the value of possibility and stretching our minds to places we have never been before. The Process teaches the importance of upholding ethical principles in everything we do and ways to keep our passion and momentum alive to make a difference.
I can not explain how wonderful the experience was. I got a chance to meet over 66 extraordinary people who I call my Line brothers, and was able to spend some quality time with a few brothers from across the country over in Los Angeles California. There were some brothers that I met for the first time in my life. To the average eye it looked like we have been friends for years. That made me realizes that this is Para Siempre and inspired me to write this testimonial. I learned so much from those few weeks in the Leadership Development Process and also found a renewed sense of self-confidence. I look at the world differently now. I know you are wondering, “How can a few weeks possibly have made such a difference? Honestly, I do not know, all I know is that it has. I went there one individual not knowing a soul and left knowing endless amount of new people that are very dear to my heart.
As far as my experience goes, words cannot really describe it…maybe ‘eye-opening’ and ‘monumental’ do it, but not really. Not only did it give me the opportunity to explore the kind of leader I am and discover ways to improve myself as a leader and person, but I also had the privilege of meeting some of the most outstanding and impressive people I have ever met. This is certainly an experience I would have otherwise not been able to have if it was not for the Fraternity. I cannot wait to apply the things I have learned within my own chapter to my life. Being from the Omega Chapter I met people who I call my brothers who I admire for their drive and dedication to the fraternity and to their professional lives. Coming to a city like Rochester without a friend in the world can be very depressing after meeting these men and then becoming a brother I called Rochester home. These men today stand as my best friends who I have all faith and confidence in.
My sophomore year at Rochester I became a board member for SALSA (the spanish and Latino Students’ Association) and was continually amazed by the ineffectiveness and bickering that came with being part of the student group. It was around this time that I got in touch with a Latino Fraternity at the University of Buffalo. That Fraternity was La Unidad Latina, Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity Inc. The Epsilon chapter. At first we spoke about what I felt I was looking for and it was very informative but casual. Over the next three months a brother by the name of Pedro Santana who was a graduate student in Buffalo, continually called me and checked to make sure I was doing well, and was generally really helpful. Throughout this time a friendship began to grow as well as my desire to be a part of this fraternity. Finally we would get our chance. Myself and two other people would go on line and become the founding Hermanos of the Omega Chapter of LUL. Since then we have been extremely active in school and local politics. We have had great success reaching out to the community. We raised a thousand dollars and co-sponsored a Latino student recruitment program for the university. We have had numerous lectures and programs on various issues effecting Latinos. We have been instrumental to the formation and founding of new organizations which help the Latino community at the U. of R. and we have expanded to encompass another college in Rochester (Nazareth College) with the goal of uniting the undergraduate Latino population in the surrounding area. Becoming an Hermano of this fraternity was the best thing I have ever done, and luckily it will continue to be one of the best things I have ever done because my commitment to La Fraternidad is “Para Siempre.”
Gil Valadez – Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Alpha Gamma Chapter
When I got to college I never gave a second thought to joining a Fraternity. I met two LUL Brothers at a Minority College Weekend as a senior in high school. One of the brothers stayed in touch with me. He never really talked about La Fraternidad, and after I pledged he told me that he wasn’t recruiting; he was just looking out. Well, I went to college and joined the Latino organizations on campus, but something was missing. I went to an informational for a Latino Fraternity that wasn’t for me. But the meeting made me think that it would be great to mobilize the Latino leaders at colleges and universities. So I hit the net and was extremely impressed by the professionalism of the LUL web sites, and the sheer volume of community service. Then I remembered the brother I knew and gave him a call. I was shocked to get a call three days later from a graduate brother in the area inviting me to an informational. I never once went to an LUL party before I pledged. That was just a nice benefit afterwards. More importantly I gained a better grasp on my culture, a multitude of Hermanos that will be there for me Para Siempre, a great professional network, and a forum to educate and empower our people and the community as a whole.
Luis M. Hernandez – Rutgers University-New Brunswick, Iota Chapter
There were two established Latino Fraternities at Rutgers and they seemed to have all the components of your typical Latino Fraternity: the members, the parties, the reputation, (the girls), and the paraphernalia. Yet, with all of that, instinctively I knew that joining any organization would have to provide more. From listening to Hermano Jesse Luis at that first informational, I knew that La Unidad Latina had that “more.”
I began to truly experience what a “familia” was. This was a true revelation and looking back, is probably the most important reason I pledged this Fraternidad. Many people will say that the preceding statement is almost an unrealistic cliche of the fraternal life. Yet, if we specifically connect the term “familia” as a dynamic of this fraternity, we truly realize the importance of its’ meaning. For, many of us come from families that nourish us with love, but there are others, like myself, who initially experience that feeling of love, honesty, and respect when we are inducted into this Life Long Organization. But even before we are inducted, that seed, which is I believe is an extremely important part of the pledge process, is planted and begins to grow. It grows into a variety of things: the person that we never thought we could be, the bond with people we probably never thought we would ever have, and the fraternal history that connects us with Hermanos hundreds of miles away.