PRLACC 50th Anniversary

Contributed by Fany Hannon & Jennifer Morenus

Attendees react to the unveiling of the mural to commemorate the 50th anniversary of PRLACC on Dec. 10, 2021. (Kayla Simon/UConn Photo)

The Puerto Rican / Latin American Cultural Center (PRLACC) kicked off its 50th anniversary celebration on Dec. 10 by unveiling a mural with photos and artifacts on a wall leading to PRLACC’s location on the fourth floor of the Student Union.

PRLACC grew out of the rise of the United States civil rights movement in the late 1960s, when three students drafted and submitted a constitution to form a student organization, the Puerto Rican Student Movement.  The students — Carmen Castro ’73 (CLAS), Ana Isabel Lopez ’75 (CLAS), and Isnoel (Ino) Rios ’71 (CLAS) — intended to celebrate Puerto Rican history, culture, and literature and to recruit students to UConn. After months of protests and sit-ins at the president’s office, La Casa Borinqueña opened its doors to UConn community on Dec. 10, 1971.

“I wanted to showcase our history through a timeline to inspire our student by invoking their sense of pride in their heritage and culture,” says Jen Morenus, Assistant Director of PRLACC who led the mural project.  “We discovered stories of triumphs and finding solutions when faced with challenges and barriers. What has been a recurring theme of our story is how we have remained resilient and stayed focused on our core mission.”

The project began in June of 2021 with research conducted by Cassandra (Casey) Gonzalez ’22 MA, searched through the University archives to gather photos and stories.

“I would spend hours reading the stories of past students about their time here at UConn,” says Casey. “Each time I would find a ‘gem’ I would run back to Jen and Fany’s office so excitedly that I found more to put on the mural.  After months of running back and forth from the Dodd center and various meetings about what should be included in the mural, and many revisions by John (Bailey) our designer, we brought PRLACC’s mural to life.”

“As the daughter of two Mexican immigrants, this project was very personal and close to my heart.  My roots run deep through the Latinx experience at a predominately white institution.  It was heartwarming and bittersweet to view the experiences of other Latinx/Hispanic individuals at this University from many decades ago through their eyes, voices, and stories.”

Upcoming events as part of the 50th anniversary celebration:

  • Annual New England Latinx Student Leadership Conference, co-sponsored by NASPA Region 1, on March 25 – 26
  • Alumni Open House on April 9 at 3 pm (at PRLACC)
  • “Fresh Prince (alumni) Reunion” on April 9 at 7 pm (the Jorgensen Center)
  • Happy 50th Birthday Celebration PRLACC on April 24 at 1 pm (Student Union Ballroom)
  • Latin Fest on June 11 (the Jorgensen Center)

Please follow us on the Instagram @uconnprlacc for most up to date information.