WashU’s new network for Hispanic, Latinx and Latin American alumni is nearly 20 years in the making.

In 2002, Jorge Castillo, AB ’06, arrived on campus as one of roughly 3% of Washington University undergraduates who identified as Latinx.* He was drawn to WashU by the Annika Rodriguez Scholars Program, a merit-based and service-driven scholar community established in 1999. At the time, the program’s participants were predominantly Latinx, and “there was a real sense of belonging and family among the students,” he recalls. 

That spirit extended to cultural organizations across campus. Many Rodriguez Scholars participated in the Association of Latin American Students (ALAS) and volunteered with Niños Cambios Puertas, a tutoring and mentoring initiative, or at Casa de Salud, a local clinic serving uninsured and underinsured immigrant populations. The bonds forged from these overlapping groups — not to mention the popularity of events like Carnaval — often made the Latinx student presence on campus feel mightier to Castillo than numbers alone suggested. 

Today, a little more than 12% of WashU’s undergraduates and 13% of the Class of 2027 identify as Latinx. With this growth comes an equally flourishing body of Latinx alumni. To better reach them, WashU’s Alumni Association introduced a new network in January 2023. La Comunidad, Spanish for “the community,” launched after months of planning by a dedicated alumni steering committee, which included Castillo and five others. The network aims to be a cultural home, as well as a professional and personal resource, for members of the WashU community who identify as Hispanic, Latinx or Latin American.