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The University's U.S. Latino Studies program recently received a $125,000 endowment through the Rodriguez '83 U.S. Latino Studies Challenge, spearheaded by Carmen Rodriguez '83 and her husband as well as other alumni donors.

The challenge, which Rodriguez suggested to Boldly Brown's Alumni of Color Initiative, encouraged donors to contribute to a new endowment, which will support faculty and students studying Latino culture and experience in the U.S.

Rodriguez and her husband pledged to match up to $50,000 in contributions, and the original goal was to raise a total of $100,000 by the end of the last year.

"As Brown alumni, we have an obligation to support the University," Rodriguez wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. "It is thanks to the phenomenal education that I received at Brown that I am now able to give back and thankfully, make a difference," she added.

Evelyn Hu-Dehart, professor of history and director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, spoke highly of the U.S. Latino Studies program and its potential for growth. The endowment will be used toward existing projects and new curricular offerings, she said.

"We are being noticed nationally and internationally because of the projects we have here," Hu-Dehart said.

U.S. Latino Studies has helped Martha Franco '12 learn about her own culture and the role Latinos play in the U.S. today, she wrote in an e-mail to The Herald.

"I have gained a lot of understanding about my own culture and the growing influence the Latino culture has had on American society," Franco wrote. "Moreover the program has also expanded my knowledge on topics like race, ethnicity, gender roles, and class in general."

Hu-Dehart said she believes it is becoming increasingly important to be aware of Latino culture in America. "To have U.S. Latino Studies at Brown means to understand ourselves more comprehensively, and it gives us a link to the world," she said.

Franco wrote that the endowment will help her examine the role Latinos play in the U.S.

"I would love to see Latino Studies expand further and offer more courses that deal with the complexity of U.S. Latino culture," Franco wrote. "On a personal level, more funding for the program will allow my studies here at Brown to be enriched with a deeper understanding about the role Latinos play in the United States."


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