Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Post - Athens, OH
The independent newspaper covering campus and community since 1911.
The Post
Jordon Lebron and Amalia Feliciano are two students dedicated to celebrating Boricuan pride at Ohio University with their organization, El 787.

Orgullo Boricua: Bobcats create space for Puerto Rican students

There are approximately 1,728 miles between Athens and the capital of Puerto Rico, San Juan. Two Bobcats, Jordon Lebron and Amalia Feliciano, are doing their part to bring the culture of La Isla del Encanto a little closer to Ohio University and make sure Puerto Rican students feel welcomed and thrive.

El 787 is a student organization that promotes and celebrates Puerto Rican heritage. The three numbers are the area code for the island, adding a personal touch to the club's name. The club has shifted in activity levels throughout the years, and the newly elected president, Lebron, is aiming to make it a well-known powerhouse club on campus.

Lebron is a sophomore studying entrepreneurship and is no stranger to being involved with multicultural organizations due to his experience with the Latinx Service Coalition and Latino Student Union. 

It wasn't until the beginning of this school year that he reached out to the previous president of El 787 to gain more information about it. To his surprise, the former president offered to hand the leadership baton over to him, thus beginning his unconventional presidency.

Lebron's main focus is reviving the club with organized events and opportunities for Puerto Rican students. He explained that his field of study influences his perspective on running the club.

"I've been kind of treating it like an entrepreneurial venture — like a business pretty much — because there hasn't been anything going on," he said. "We have members, but it's not as active as I'd like it to be. So just really the goal is to get an exec board established and get the club pretty much back up and running again."

The pair has many ideas regarding future programming, including a salsa night and generating hurricane relief funds. 

Puerto Rican students are not the only ones encouraged to attend events, as the invitation is extended to anyone who has an interest in learning more about the culture.

Lebron shared the driving motivation behind dedicating his time and effort to the organization.

"My ultimate goal with it is to pretty much have this be a safe haven for Boricua students that are on campus and pretty much ensure their success and help them in any way that I possibly can," he said.

"Boricua," is a word used to refer to someone from Puerto Rico or of Puerto Rican descent, according to Merriam-Webster. The term comes from the name originally given to the island, "Borinquén." The name was given by the native Taíno population, whose ancestors settled the island nearly a millennium before the Spanish colonizers. 

Lebron said the population of Latinos on OU’s campus is relatively small, making up only 4% of the student body. Despite this, Lebron said he has had a great experience with the present population.

"It's a very small population, so it kind of makes it easy to get to know everybody on an interpersonal basis," he said. "We're a small population, but we're mighty."

Feliciano, a sophomore studying graphic design, is the treasurer of El 787. Lebron and Feliciano are cousins.

"He was literally the only other Puerto Rican I knew, and we're related so that says a lot," she said.

Feliciano said this perspective fueled her desire to become more involved in creating more opportunities for Puerto Rican students. 

"I'm from Cleveland, so I come from a lot of culture, and coming to an area where there are not a lot of Latinos, I found it to be very important to connect with other people," she said. "Once I did, I still found myself missing something."

Already, Feliciano said they have seen interest expressed from other Boricuan students, especially freshmen. She and Lebron held a casual informational session at Donkey Coffee, and Feliciano was pleased with the turnout.

"There were a lot of freshmen who ended up coming to the meeting, which was so exciting for me because that was something I struggled with a bit my freshmen year, so just being able to offer that to kids who are coming in now and just looking for that security and being with people of the same culture really made me feel good," she said.

Both Lebron and Feliciano expressed what their heritage and experiences have taught them.

"It's shaped me to be a tough person, but a hardworking person and to understand it takes hard work to get what you want," Lebron said.

Similarly, Feliciano is proud of her heritage and is excited to share it through El 787. 

"(It means) everything," Feliciano said. "I feel like it is just so deep-rooted in my lifestyle, the way I talk, the way I look, the way I interact with people. I am just so excited to share this with other people.”


Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2016-2024 The Post, Athens OH