Chi Upsilon Sigma Celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month
The women of Corazones Unidos Siempre Chi Upsilon Sigma National Latin Sorority, Inc. are making an impact on York College’s campus.
The Gamma Eta chapter of the organization, composed of founding sisters Alecedys ‘Cedy’ Clarke ’22, Jenifer ‘Jenny’ Hernandez-Vargas ’22, Michelle Ildefonso-Ruelas ’24, and Susana ‘Susie’ Martinez ’22, was officially founded on York College’s campus on November 14, 2021.
Clarke, who graduated in May, worked throughout her college career to bring the organization to York College. The entire process took almost three years. She’s a legacy sister—her mother was in the sorority before her at Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey, in the Kappa Chapter. She graduated in 1999, and is still an active member.
“My mom has always surrounded me with sisters,” Clarke says. “I loved having a family atmosphere in a place where I always felt like I belonged. Growing up in that atmosphere, I knew that was something I saw in myself.”
After the chapter was approved as an interest group at York College, Clarke began recruiting members to join. Martinez was the first of Clarke’s recruits. The two branched out to social media, and Ildefonso-Ruelas and Hernandez-Vargas joined. They then began hosting events and fundraising, and in the fall of 2021, the chapter was officially established on campus.
Michelle felt a sense of sisterhood with Chi Upsilon Sigma immediately when she joined.
“I felt like it was something that I really, really wanted to be a part of. I felt like my values aligned with it very well,” she says. “I especially feel like it was an opportunity for me to feel welcomed even more with another group of women on campus.”
Chi Upsilon Sigma was founded at Rutgers University on April 29, 1980. It was an era of change for all women, who had been given the legal right to attend college with the passage of Title IX in 1972, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex.
Rutgers had opened its doors to women two years earlier, voting in 1970 to allow coeducation at the institution. According to Chi Upsilon Sigma’s official website, still, as the campus’ Latin population grew larger, opportunities for the community, specifically Latin women, were scarce.
“With this going on, a group of Latin women said, ‘We need a place that is a home away from home, a place where we can be ourselves, a place that uplifts women like us,’” Jenny explains. “That was why Chi Upsilon Sigma was founded.”
Jenny stresses that although the organization was founded by Latin women, they accept everyone. “We accept anybody of every ethnicity and nationality,” she says.
Sisterhood for Life
Clarke attests to Chi Upsilon Sigma’s impact on her postgraduate life. While she’s attending Shippensburg University for her master’s degree, she is also staying involved with the organization, having joined a graduate chapter. That’s something that is different about the way Chi Upsilon Sigma operates versus other sororities—membership doesn’t end with the undergraduate career.
“A common misconception—especially because we do operate differently—is that everyone always assumes that it's just going to be a college thing—but no, the moment that you’re a sister, it's a lifetime commitment,” Clarke explains. “I still keep in contact with the sisters I pledged with. It's really important for our grad chapters to interact with our undergrad chapters and build those connections and relationships.”
“You might think that we were close before, but honestly, we weren't,” Jenny says. “I met Cedy my first year of college, and we're so close now. We're still here for each other. We still go visit her at Shippensburg. We're still here if she ever needs anything, to celebrate all her successes.”
National Hispanic Heritage Month
During National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, the chapter emphasizes the importance of celebrating Hispanic culture more than ever.
“I feel like Chi Upsilon Sigma connects back to why we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month,” Michelle says. “It traces us all the way back to our cultures, and how all immigrants come to the United States for better opportunities and a better, stable life. It unites all of our cultures together into one whole month so we can celebrate and feel like we're still home.”
“National Hispanic Heritage Month is most importantly to educate,” Jenny adds. “So, it's important for us to educate others on what it is to be Hispanics. Not every Hispanic is the same; not every Hispanic culture shares the same events.”
The chapter is holding several events to celebrate and educate during National Hispanic Heritage Month, including a step show in association with SpartaFest, and Hispanic heritage-themed bingo with the Campus Activities Board (CAB).
Overall, they want the campus to understand them better.
“Both of my parents are Mexican immigrants. They immigrated here at a very young age,” Michelle says. “I grew up with most of the Mexican traditions they took from their home and brought here. It's more bringing back and embracing our traditions and our cultures that our parents pass on to us.”
“When we talk about Hispanic Heritage month, to see our culture is to see us and who we are,” Cedy explains. “When the school or students have a better grasp of our culture and different things and events that are going on, especially during this month, that's a good look into who we are, what we value, and how we hold ourselves.”
Jenny also stresses the importance of honoring those who came before them.
“The importance of Hispanic Heritage Month is to honor all those Hispanics who did things along their way and along their history to put us where we're at today,” she says. “However, it's still history to come and bring this organization onto York College's campus. It's just a daily thing that we keep on making history at York College, for not only Hispanic individuals, but women in general.”