The Latino Student Organization (LASO) proudly promotes and supports Harvard Business School’s Latino students and works alongside the Latino Alumni Association (HBSLAA). Representing a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, interests, and Latino heritage, LASO members spearhead initiatives related to MBA Admissions, alumni engagement, career development, and more to advocate for and empower the Latino community on campus and beyond. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we asked LASO members to tell us about what being part of LASO means to them.

In my senior year of high school, my English class was assigned to read a compilation of short stories by Gabriel García Márquez titled “Strange Pilgrims.” These stories depicted Latinos across the world who shared one common lived experience: feeling like foreigners in the only lands they knew or called home. This was the first time in my life I had a term to describe myself — a Strange Pilgrim.

Growing up in the US as the daughter of immigrants — my mom from Colombia and my dad an Armenian from Turkey — I never quite fit in. I felt too foreign to be American and too “other” among individuals from either of my heritages. My childhood and teen years were filled with the challenge of juggling each of these unique identities, often assimilating or overcompensating one or some combination of them to try to fit in.

It wasn’t until early adulthood that I realized the power that my multicultural background affords me. My background has equipped me with a different perspective on the world, promoting inclusivity and resilience in the face of discriminatory preconceived notions. I strive each day to bring my true self to those that surround me. Rather than avoid my “otherness,” I have come to embrace my status as a Strange Pilgrim.

As Hispanic Heritage Month begins, I can’t help but reflect on how my identity as a Latina has already shaped my experience at HBS, from the LASO community providing me with guidance and support before even stepping foot on campus to the informal relationships I have already made built on commonalities in shared experiences. At the same time, I know there is still a lot of work to be done on making spaces like HBS more inclusive of individuals like me and I strive to make my time here a meaningful opportunity to further build the Latinx community.