LASO Celebrates 50 Years Promoting the Diversity of the Latinx Culture

Latinx students

LASO gala celebration will be held on Thursday, Dec. 1, at the Donovan Dining Center.

Hispanic/Latinx students encompass more than 25 percent (over 1,200) of all full-time students enrolled in undergraduate programs at Rhode Island College, earning the college the designation of a Hispanic Serving Institution.

Over 50 years ago, a group of Hispanic/Latinx students at RIC felt the need to unite and create awareness around the cultural, social and political conditions affecting the Hispanic/Latinx community. So, they formed the Latin American Students Organization (LASO). Today, LASO continues to bring awareness about the diversity of Hispanic/Latinx people to the rest of the college community and to promote unity and equality for everyone at RIC.

On Thursday, Dec. 1, at 5:30 p.m., LASO will commemorate its 50th anniversary with a gala celebration in the Faculty Dining Room of Donovan Dining Center. This event is by invitation only. Those interested in attending should contact,, or  

The evening will feature former LASO members, such as Dominican actress, author and spoken word poet Marleny Luna ’09; and Deputy Secretary of State/Director of Administration Lammis Vargas ’10.  

“We want people to come and enjoy themselves at the event and to remember their time at RIC,” says Brian Villa, president of LASO (fourth from left in photo above). Villa adds, “I’m looking forward to hearing former members talk about their time with the organization and how they navigated similar situations we’re going through now.”

Many of the events that LASO has held throughout the years – from Latinx celebrities at RIC like Puerto Rican singer El Jibaro in 1976 to Colombian-American poet, actor and author Carlos Andres Gomez in 2022 – are events that keep Latino customs, heritage and traditions alive. LASO founded the Latin Literacy Book Exchange and, last spring, hosted the LASO Lounge, a space for weekly conversations. LASO also hosts the Minority Perspective Program, which invites minority students to RIC for a day of activities and introduces them to the many resources that RIC offers. Once enrolled at RIC, the organization helps students familiarize themselves with the college and serves as moral support for those who are first-generation college students.

LASO’s membership not only encompasses students from the Caribbean and Central and South America but also members of other ethnic groups. Together, they are building networks of support in collaboration with other associations and organizations both inside and outside the college. 

“LASO wants to keep our cultures alive for future generations,” says Asley Corrales, LASO’s public relations coordinator (second from right in photo above). “Just like our parents taught us about their culture, it’s our turn to teach others what it means to be a Latinx.”

LASO is located in the Student Union, Room 420, and is open to the public Monday-Friday at various hours.