Latino Alumni Society to host Méritos Latinos April 2

The Latino Alumni Society, Arkansas Alumni Association, will host its annual Méritos Latinos, formerly known as La Pachanga, awards recognition and scholarship fundraising event at 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 2, at the Janelle Y. Hembree Alumni House. The University of Arkansas Latino Alumni Society (LAS) supports Latinos within the University of Arkansas community through scholarships, networking, mentoring and providing community support.

Méritos Latinos raises money for scholarships. Each year the Society distributes three scholarships at the event as well as recognizing the accomplishments of outstanding Latino students. Daymara Baker, president of the LAS Society, says the society will recognize the following individuals and organization for their outstanding service, commitment and dedication to the Latino community:

Latino Excellence in Academics: Juan Jose Bustamante. He is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Arkansas. He has a joint appointment between the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice and the Latin American and Latino Studies Program. Born in Mexico City and raised in both Mexico and Texas, his research interests include Latina/o communities, international immigration, and qualitative research methods.

Erika Gamboa, Latina Apoyo de Corazón /Latina de Corazon Supporter,
Erika Gamboa, Latina Apoyo de Corazón /Latina de Corazon Supporter,

Bustamante’s work collecting ethnographic data from Latina/os and migrants living in the U.S. South extends his research on racially and community structured components of migration beyond the physical limits of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Latina de Corazon Supporter, Erika Gamboa. She is director of the Veterans Resource and Information Center at the University of Arkansas. Gamboa, a first-generation U.S. citizen of Mexican heritage, is a veteran of the U.S. Army Reserves. Gamboa received dual bachelor degrees in criminology and Spanish from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and two master’s degrees from the University of Arkansas: higher education and clinical mental health counseling. She is a founder and former president of the Latino Alumni Society.

Excellence in Advancing Latinos: Javier Reyes. He serves as the vice provost for distance education at the University of Arkansas. He ensures that the university’s resources are used fully and optimally, balancing all modes of instruction delivery, pushing for innovation in teaching technologies, safeguarding the academic standards and the brand of the university. He is also the associate dean for undergraduate programs and executive education in the Sam M. Walton College of Business.

Javier Reyes, Excelencia en el Avance de los Latinos /Excellence in Advancing Latinos
Javier Reyes, Excelencia en el Avance de los Latinos /Excellence in Advancing Latinos

Excellence in Advancing Latinos, Organization/Business: Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce.

In 2013, the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce initiated the Northwest Arkansas Hispanic Heritage Festival to celebrate the contributions made to our region by our Hispanic community.

“The importance of Northwest Arkansas becoming more diverse and expanding its Hispanic and Latino communities cannot be overstated,” said Steve Clark, President of the Fayetteville Chamber. “The contributions that already have been made to Northwest Arkansas by Latinos are among the reasons that Fayetteville and our region was just recently recognized by U.S. News and World Report as the third best place in the United States to live.”

For additional information, please contact Angela Mosley Monts at

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