By Zara Hurtado
Sporting burgundy windbreakers emblazoned with Greek letters, the ladies of Lambda Theta Alpha proudly uphold the nation’s first Latina sorority’s principles of unity, love and respect.
With more than 160 chapters around the country, including Puerto Rico, LTA has a strong history rooted in politics and social justice.
Established in 1975 at Kean University by 17 founding members, the goal was to create an on-campus community that would empower Latinas to excel academically, professionally and personally as involved community activists.
Cal Poly Pomona’s own chapter was established on April 10, 2004 by eight founding sisters who saw the need for a Latina sisterhood on campus.
Although the size of the chapter has always fluctuated, CPP’s group currently boasts a close-knit group of 13 active members.
President of LTA Emily Chavarria firmly believes in preserving the organization’s legacy by introducing the sorority’s commitment of activism to the new generation of sisters.
“During the 1970s there was a lot of activism and political movements,” said Chavarria. “Because [LTA] was started around a time when women were searching for a support group in academics, it still continued after all these years.”
According to a 2017 National Science Foundation study, 39 percent of CPP’s student population is comprised of Latino students, making organizations such as LTA a welcoming space for students to pursue political activism.
One such program is the Political Education Initiative, which organizes Lambda Hill Day, a two-day workshop for members of different chapters to meet elected officials and discuss issues concerning their communities.
Along with an emphasis on political activism, the Latina sorority stresses the importance of academic excellence, cultural awareness, community service and professionalism.
These core values are things that appeal to many young women who are searching for some kind of personal connection on campus.
Ashley Kerr, a fourth year history student and the academic chair of the chapter, was drawn to the organization as a transfer student.
Like some students, she was wary of joining Greek life. However, when she realized the potential for growth within the organization, she decided to take a chance.
“I knew I wanted to get involved on campus but didn’t know how,” said Kerr. “Seeing the professionalism and academics, which are big things for me, made me want to join more than I would have before.”
The sorority encourages their members to grow academically, professionally and personally, all characteristics of LTA’s iconic, “universal woman.”
The universal woman, as described by Chavarria, is one who takes on leadership roles and is an active member of her community both on and off campus.
Vice President of LTA Alexis Chavez explains that the core of being a universal woman is, “achieving whatever growth you want to see yourself in, having some kind of influence on your on-campus community, achieving your own personal goals and still keeping your academic standards.”
Many of the chapter’s sisters illustrate this by becoming social justice leaders at different cultural centers, senators at Associated Students, Inc. and outreach ambassadors for various clubs.
With so many sisters working towards different careers, their similarities as career-driven individuals strengthen the bonds between sisters and empower them to pursue their goals.
“I want our chapter to continue to uphold the standards we set for ourselves and to continue our work with the community, both on and off campus,” said Chavarria. “At the end of the year, I want to see sisters very prepared for whatever step life has for them.”
Tevin Voong / The Poly Post
President Emily Chavarria talks about the downside of hazing at a workshop
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