School of Social Work Celebrates Four Decades of Éxito: Forming Leaders, Advancing Knowledge, and Facilitating Change for Latin@ Populations

The UConn School of Social Work Puerto Rican & Latin@ Studies Project (PRLSP) marked its 40th anniversary on May 22, 2013.  More than one hundred thirty guests were in attendance to celebrate the accomplishments of the PRLSP and the contributions of the founding director, Dr. Julio Morales Jr.
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The evening program was packed with speakers and the mood in the room was festive including a musical performance and Peruvian dancers.

The program kicked off with a welcome from Dean Salome Raheim. She shared news that the Julio Morales Jr. Fellowship Fund established by Morales had reached endowment status, having raised an excess of $10,000. The Fellowship Fund will provide support for a graduate student enrolled full-time in the School of Social Work with demonstrated financial need.

UConn’s Vice Provost for Diversity, Dr. Jeffrey Ogbar, gave greetings on behalf of the University and spoke of the significance of the Puerto Rican and Latin@ Studies Project within the University.

Dr. Catherine Medina, PRLSP Director and one of the co-chairs of the Éxito event, spoke of the history of the PRLSP and its numerous accomplishments. “It began with a student movement, demanding more Latino faculty and students in higher education.” Medina added that the Project has since become a model for institutions of higher education worldwide. “Our graduates have become higher education scholars, judges, directors of agencies and public officials,” she said.

Members of the Puerto Rican and Latin@ Studies Project Advisory Board spoke of the accomplishments of the Project in the areas of leadership, advancing knowledge, and facilitating change. They also awarded Travel Study Scholarships to three MSW students travelling to Puerto Rico: Amy Ramirez, Stephanie Swantek and Jasmine Williams.

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra MSW ’82, JD ’85 spoke about how profoundly his life had been affected by the Puerto Rican & Latin@ Studies Project and particularly by his mentor Dr. Julio Morales Jr. Segarra also presented the PRLSP and Morales with proclamations from the City of Hartford before surprising Morales with the key to the City of Hartford.

Senator Andres Ayala Jr. took time out from a senate session at the Capitol to present two citations at the event: one for the Puerto Rican and Latin@ Studies Project and one for Morales.