History of PRLACC – We Belong.

The Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center arose from the struggle for civil rights and economic justice that found many U.S. campuses and cities in turmoil during the 1960s. At the University of Connecticut, issues such as racism, inequality, and access to education and employment were addressed by many student groups and concerned individuals. For Latinx/a/o at UConn, this effort was led by three students who drafted a constitution to form the Puerto Rican Student Movement in 1970. After months of protests and sit-ins at the president’s office, the University gave us a building. La Casa Borinqueña (The Puerto Rican House) opened on December 10, 1971. And we have not stopped working. In just 50 years our inclusive center has been part of the multicultural fabric of UConn, working both independently and collaboratively to build community, spotlight and nurture our heritage, and support students as they discover who they are and who they want to become.

  • 1970 We Belong

    Three students draft and submit a constitution to form the Puerto Rican Student Movement. Carmen Castro ’73 (CLAS), Ana Isabel Lopez ’75 (CLAS), and Isnoel (Ino) Rios ’71 (CLAS) intend to celebrate Puerto Rican history, culture, and literature and to recruit students to UConn.

    Our First Home
    Our First Home
  • 1971 El Hogar Fuera del Hogar

    After months of protests and sit-ins at the president’s office, the University gives us a building. La Casa Borinqueña (The Puerto Rican House) opens on December 10 and our home is within the Office of Student Affairs and Services.

    Our First Home
    Our First Home
  • 1975 Celebrando Nuestra Herencia Boricua

    In April, UConn observes Puerto Rican History Week to raise awareness of the role of Hispanic minorities at the University. The week later merges with Puerto Rican Hispanic History Observance Month.

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  • 1976 Unsung (S)hero

    Marie Rivera ’78 MA, a part-time anthropology graduate student, serves as interim director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center. A year later, she’s our first appointed director.

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  • 1978 A Place for Everyone To Enjoy

    Remember Ino Rios? He returns with his doctorate and becomes our first permanent director. We also hire a clerical support staff member.

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  • The Center begins reaching out to neighboring communities and provides recreational, academic, financial, and referral services.

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  • 1981 A Man with a Mission

    To carry out the Center’s mission, Ino Rios, Ph.D., recommends more staffing and “[t]he funding of the Center augmented to be more in line with the funding resources of the other University centers” in his annual report.

    Our First Home
  • 1982 Historias de la Isla del Encanto

    With the help of UConn’s Francisco Scarano, Ph.D., the Center acquires the second-largest collection of Puerto Rican literature in the continental U.S. The Géigel Family Collection documents Puerto Rican socioeconomic and cultural history from 1800–1977.

    April is designated as Puerto Rican Hispanic History Observance Month at UConn.

    Our First Home
  • 1985 El Sol Sale Para Todos

    The Puerto Rican Center publishes the Sol Latino (Latin Sun) newsletter.

    article on name change
  • Later in the year, the Center changes its name to the Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center to be more inclusive.

    name change document from 1986
  • 1989–1990 Home Court Advantage

    We win the Homecoming Weekend trophy and establish the inaugural Mr. and Miss Hispanic UConn.

    Along with the other cultural centers, PRLACC moves under the Office of the Provost.

    Our First Home
    PRLACC members holding 1989 homecoming banner
  • 1991 Chivalry Above Self

    The Lambda Chapter of Lambda Theta Phi is the first Latin fraternity affiliated with PRLACC to be established at UConn.

    Our First Home
  • Trabajando Junto Podemos

    Beta Sigma Alpha is the first Latin sorority affiliated with PRLACC to be established at UConn

    advisory board notes
  • Amplifying Student Voices

    Each Hispanic student organization is given a direct seat on the Center’s Advisory Board. The student-run Latino Organization Council develops and coordinates major programs, like this.

    advisory board notes
  • 1994 You Sang to Me

    Marc Anthony performs to more than 700 people in the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts as part of PRLACC’s Latin Fest.

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  • 1997 The Royal Treatment

    Marien Velez ’99 (CLAS) ’02 JD is the first Latina student to be crowned homecoming queen.

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  • 1998 Investing in Us

    Ino Rios, Ph.D., asks for the development of a Latino Scholarship Fund. Aimed at first-generation students, the fund would support 10 scholarships at $5,000 per student for a total of $50,000—a request we continue to this day.

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  • 1999 Huskies Forever

    Ada Rivera ’95 (CLAS) ’98 MSW and Jennifer Aldworth ’95 (CLAS) establish and lead the first Latino Alumni Council.

  • 2001 A New Century

    Maria Echaveste, deputy chief of staff to former President Bill Clinton and the first Hispanic to hold the position, speaks at the opening ceremony for UConn’s 32nd Annual Latino Awareness Month.

    Leadership for the Future

    PRLACC hosts our first Congress of Latin American Students conference where we highlight the 21st century’s career and educational opportunities to 600 middle and high school students.

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  • 2004 A New Direction

    We welcome our new director, Mayté Pérez-Franco, Ph.D., and establish a half-time graduate assistantship.

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  • 2005–2006 We Got METAS

    Under Mayté Pérez-Franco, Ph.D., we create the Mentoring, Educating, and Training for Academic Success program to strengthen our academic focus. METAS pairs first-year and transfer students with peer mentors to ease the college transition. Forty students enroll and participate in the first year.

    Email METAS@uconn.edu for more info.

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  • 2006 Home Sweet Home

    PRLACC moves to its forever home in the Student Union.

    Our First Home
  • 2007 A Scholarship for Leadership

    We establish the Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center Scholarship Fund to honor an undergraduate student who has advanced the role and contributions of Latinos in society and at UConn.

    PRLACC and the other cultural centers move under the Office of Diversity & Equity.

    Our First Home
  • 2010 Building Bridges

    We partner with the Asian American Cultural Center in support of Kids & UConn Bridging Education. KUBE is a multicultural mentoring program with local middle school students that increases literacy, educational aspirations, and social skills.

    Our First Home
  • 2011 “You’re movin’ with your auntie and uncle in Student Affairs”

    PRLACC’s “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” takes first place at the Homecoming Lip Sync competition.

    students dancing to fresh prince lip sync competition
  • We turn 40 and move back under the Division of Student Affairs.

    40 Anos PRLACC UConn
  • 2012 Bienvenida a la Familia

    We rename the PRLACC Scholarship Fund to Somos Huskies to include students who are actively committed to Latinx/a/o issues through leadership and service to the community at UConn and beyond.

    “Coming from an environment where getting a degree seemed impossible, receiving the scholarship provided me the resources needed to complete my degree. The investment in not only my future but other recipients served as an inspiration for me to carry out that mission in helping other students and breaking down financial barriers many students encounter.” Bryant Dominguez ’13 (CLAS)

    Latinx Heritage Month hosts a concert by INTEMPO. Founded by Angie Durrell ’11 (SFA), the program offers children the opportunity to express themselves artistically through traditional and classical music and instrumentation.


    Fany DeJesus Hannon ’08 MA joins the family as our new director.

    Our First Home

    Our First Home

    Fany Hannon
  • 2013 Crowning Achievements

    Justis Lopez ’14 (ED) ’15 MA becomes the first Latinx student to be crowned homecoming king.


    Latinx/a/o Heritage Month culminates with a new event, Illuminating the Path, where we interview a nationally renowned Latinx/a/o member of our society on their achievements and passions. Over the years, guests will include journalist Ray Suarez, Maria Hinojosa, and John Quiñones; and actors/producers Diego Luna, Rosario Dawson, Diane Guerrero, and Rita Moreno

    Justice Lopez
    Ray Suarez speaking
  • 2014 METAS Wins Gold

    Student Life Awards Annual Program names METAS their Program of the Year. The award “honors an organization or individual responsible for the development and/or execution of an event/program that significantly enhances the social, recreational, educational, and/or cultural life of students and the general community at this institution.”

    Our First Home
  • 2015 STEM FTW

    Focusing on the professional development of minority students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), we launch TESLaS (Technology, Engineering, Science, Latinx Symposium) in collaboration with the School of Engineering.

    Un Sentido de Pertenencia

    We found the Latinx Student Leadership Council to foster a sense of belonging for our students and graduates. LxSLC provides essential training, networking opportunities, and social activities for the entire PRLACC community.

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  • 2016 Don’t Call It a Comeback

    METAS wins Program of the Year again.

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  • A scheduling conflict nearly cancels our annual Latin Fest, but our students stage Noche Latina and save the night.

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  • PRLACC moves to the newly created Office for Diversity and Inclusion.

  • Fanyvision

    Univision features our director, Fany DeJesus Hannon ’08 MA, as part of Nuestro Orgullo Hispano – Our Hispanic Pride – during Hispanic Heritage Month. “I’m rewarded by seeing our students being successful.” View the full story on UConn Today.

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  • 2017–2018 Latino Leadership

    Latinx/a/o immigration to Connecticut causes our culture-based organizations like the Colombian Student Association to flourish, and our students lead the way. This academic year LxSLC establishes the first annual retreat for Latinx organizations; the Center holds a conference on undocumented students; and we host a lecture and workshop by Juana Bordas and her book, Latino Leadership.

  • We co-host an event with UConn’s Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra to benefit Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

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  • 2019 More Than Meets the Eye

    We present our findings from a year-long METAS Assessment to the University community, which highlight the benefits to our Latinx/a/o students.

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  • METAS changes its name to Mentoring, Educating, and Transforming to Achieve Success to better reflect the transformative experience on our students.

  • On our annual trip to New York City, we attend a performance of the New York Philharmonic led by Maestro Gustavo Dudamel.

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  • 2020 Sharing Our Best Practice

    Staff members Jen Morenus ’97 (SFA) ’18 MA and Jen Cheng ’16 MA present on the success of METAS at the National Mentoring Summit.

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  • Eileen M. Galvez is the first Salvadoran-American keynote speaker for Latinx Heritage Month.

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  • 2021 ¡Feliz 50 Cumpleaños/Parabens! PRLACC turns 50!

    We unveil this mural on December 10—exactly 50 years after La Casa Borinqueña opened its doors.

    Our First Home
  • Un Abrazo Muy Fuerte

    Special thanks to PRLACC Assistant Director Jen Morenus ’97 (SFA) ’18 MA and Graduate Practicum Student Cassandra (Casey) Gonzalez ’22 MA for their vision and dedication to our home away from home.

    Jen Morenus and Graduate Practicum Student Cassandra (Casey) Gonzalez