Maggie Otero is the coordinator for Latinx students at The Multicultural Center. Otero has been working at The Center since mid-July and finds fulfillment working with students. Her position at The Center has allowed Otero to create a space she didn’t have as a college student and she wants students to feel connected and supported all throughout their time at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Otero loves connecting with students and getting their input on what events they want to see. Coming up, The Center is putting on an event based on a Bad Bunny album, YHLQMDLG. YHLQMDLG is an acronym for "Yo Hago Lo Que Me Da La Gana" which is Spanish for "I Do Whatever I Want" and is the inspiration for an event on Oct. 11, from 5 to 8:30 p.m. at the JCSU theatre. At #YHLQMDLG: Breaking the labels of our Latinidad, students will have a conversation about identity, cultural expectations and being authentically themselves.
“I remember being an undergrad student and not really knowing where to go, not really knowing how to do things or not having events that were culturally relevant to me,” Otero said. “Like we had bingo night but we never had Lotería nights. Getting the chance to build a space for students to have cultural experiences with their campus community really excites me. I get to learn about students and their lived experiences as well. Exposure to different lived experiences and different people and different ways of looking at the world is really what makes life very exciting.”
Otero has a motto for herself when it comes to working with students. She wants to create the intersection of health and well-being and student success at The Center. Her degree in Public Health allows her to look at big-picture issues and how it affects students in their individual lives.
“I am able to see how big-picture issues like housing security, financial security, feeling connected and building community, how all of that eventually ends up affecting student success,” Otero said. “A lot of my events incorporate a little bit of not only building community and a sense of belonging but also talking about mental health and seeing where we’re at. So just building space where students can feel safe to talk about these things and know that there are resources on campus for them I think is very important and I am hoping that that will help them feel supported but also help them identify resources available to them.”
Originally from Mexico City, Otero moved to the U.S. when she was 13 and attended a boarding school. At school, there were many international students and many of whom were from Mexico, which helped Otero have a sense of belonging with shared language and experiences. However, in college, Otero went to Schreiner University in Texas to get her bachelor’s degree and really struggled to find her place.
“I moved on to college and I went to a predominantly white institution. It was a very interesting transition of figuring out how to connect to my roots, how to build community and how to find my people,” Otero said. “I think it was also at a time when the sociopolitical climate wasn’t so great with the Trump administration. It was hard to find my place but it was also good to connect with Latino organizations on campus. Being a part of that, being involved, definitely made it a lot easier.”
While in college, Otero chose public health as her major. She got an internship to see what health policies looked like in Mexico. During this time Otero advocated for a nutrition labeling policy change in Mexico and she felt like she found her purpose.
“Eventually I got an internship to see what health policy looked like in Mexico and I advocated for a labeling policy change in Mexico and that was really cool,” Otero said. “I think what truly inspired me about that was being able to see actual, impactful change. It kind of felt like with so many other majors, I couldn’t really make a difference in the world. Public Health, specifically health policy, allowed me to make change and still work with communities that I love.”
Maggie Otero gets inspiration for her events everywhere and wants to make a place for students to connect with each other and their roots. Even though Otero has only worked at The Center since July, she loves what she's doing and wants to continue making events and connecting with students. For more information about the events The Center is putting on, check out their Instagram page and website!