Building a Legacy

Alejandra Gonzalez-Galan standing in front a Georgia Southern sign outsideLatina chapter is one of a kind

Leadership. Mentorship. Education. Community Service. These are some of the goals of MANA de Savannah at Armstrong. It has the distinction of being the first collegiate chapter of MANA, a national grassroots organization for Latina women. MANA focuses on the interests of Latina women and families in areas of education, health, financial literacy, civil rights and immigration reform.

Alejandra Gonzalez-Galan is the president of the new chapter on the Armstrong Campus. The sophomore was born in Mexico City, Mexico, grew up in Atlanta and considers the Armstrong Campus her home away from home. As a first-year student, she joined the initial group looking to establish a mentoring program for Latinas on campus. Through meetings and research, they found MANA.

Learning to Lead

“Being the first college chapter in the United States is a tremendous honor and I view it as an amazing opportunity to continue striving toward the involvement of Latinas in our society,” said Gonzalez-Galan. “It means we can provide a vision for other colleges around the nation and expand this initiative in the future.”

The chapter aims to increase the retention of Latinas on the Georgia Southern campus through empowerment sessions, study halls, membership meetings and volunteering. Lucero Aradillas is the associate director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs on the Armstrong Campus. She noted the mission of the office is to create a sense of family and ensure that students feel supported through their collegiate career.

“This organization is one avenue to accomplish that,” she explained. “MANA builds the ladies’ leadership and networking skills, while paying close attention to their academics to ensure they are progressing toward eventual graduation.”

Aradillas hopes chapter members will inspire others. “Latinos need more representation in the nation, state and community,” she said. “These young ladies will go into the world one day and provide that support to others, thus continuing the cycle of success for our Latino student community.”

“Within this chapter, we are hermanas (sisters) who help each other in both our successes and failures,” added Gonzalez-Galan, a cell and molecular biology major who plans to become a dentist. “We always support each other and have a close bond to every one of our members.”

True Blessing

For Gonzalez-Galan, MANA de Savannah at Armstrong has been “a true blessing” and has motivated her to improve as an individual and a leader.

“I have learned that on a day-to-day basis, everything is a learning experience,” she said. “On my first day at Armstrong, I would have never believed that MANA de Savannah at Armstrong would be the first collegiate chapter in the nation. I wouldn’t have seen myself as the president of the organization, either.”

Sandra Bennett