Contributed by Victoria Almodóvar
Students, friends, and faculty gathered in the UConn Puerto Rican and Latin American Cultural
Center community room on October 22nd to get a preview of Dr. Daisy Verduzco Reyes’ book, Learning
to Be Latino, a book she just published with Rutgers University Press. Reyes, an Assistant Professor with
a joint appointment in the Sociology department and El Instituto, joined the UConn community in 2013.
Learning to Be Latino is an ethnographic exploration of how college campuses shape students’ political
Reyes began her presentation by talking about what sparked her interest in college environments’
influence on Latinx identity, or how Latinx students identify, understand themselves, and interact with
others. Reyes highlighted the significance of her own experiences as a Chicana and those of some of her
close family members.
Reyes then explained her use of ethnographic methods at three campuses, a small liberal arts
college, a large research university, and a regional public university. At each school, she observed and
interacted with similar Latino student groups. Reyes’ data shows that factors like the amount of time
students spend on campus, the quantity of resources made available to them, and the demographic
makeup of the student bodies influence the lived experiences of Latinx college students. For instance,
Latinx students at the small liberal arts college had more access to powerful figures on campus, whereas
students at the other campuses had less. Reyes argues that such differences affect how students see
themselves, and how they frame and tackle issues.
Reyes set the room abuzz when she asked audience members to pair and share their UConn
experiences as Latinxs, and what they had observed about other Latinx students’ experiences at UConn.
Reyes’ work clearly hit home for many in attendance. Learning to Be Latino is a contribution to the
academic literature that also has the potential to effect change in how universities like UConn support
their Latinx students