The LSA Opportunity Hub aims to foster meaningful connections between alums and students, creating a bridge through mentorship and support. One alum, Yezenia Sandoval, stands out for her impactful collaboration with the Hub, particularly serving the career needs of Latinx/e student community. 

Originally hailing from Northwest Chicago, Yezenia’s journey at U-M LSA began in 2015 when she pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and History. During her undergraduate years, she co-founded La Casa, a Latinx organization designed to “promote the advancement and well-being of the Latinx/e community at the University of Michigan through the development of cultural, educational, professional, and social programs and initiatives.”

Yezenia’s commitment to supporting Latinx students comes at a crucial time. According to recent data, the Latinx student population at U-M has grown significantly in recent years, increasing 29% from 2022 to 2023. Despite this, Latinx students still face unique challenges including access to resources and opportunities.

As a first-generation, low-income student herself, Yezenia’s goal was to build a community for students with similar backgrounds and identities. Nearly eight years after the formation of La Casa, Yezenia’s involvement in the organization has remained steadfast even through career shifts. Her professional journey began in immigration law before pivoting into a career in education after receiving her Master’s in Educational Leadership and Policy from U-M. Throughout it all, she has continued to support the student org in transformative ways. 

Why is this work important? It’s well understood that students of color can have a more enriched undergraduate experience if they can form meaningful connections with people who share the same racial identity, culture, and language. On the flip side, a lack of connections could be one of many reasons why historically underserved groups are not accessing life-changing resources and services such as a career center. 

During her undergraduate studies, Yezenia’s roles as External Director, then later, Undergraduate Advisor for La Casa, shine a light on her continued desire to aid other Latinx students from an access perspective – ensuring they have awareness of opportunities and resources and know how to seize them. This has driven her to dedicate significant time to sustaining connections with other student-centered organizations that are focused on access and representation, like the Opportunity Hub. 

“There’s a wealth of opportunities and resources on campus, but the big thing is knowing about these resources. I think organizations like the Opportunity Hub help create that bridge by entering spaces that we’re already in.”

As a continuation of her advocacy work for Latinx students at the college, Yezenia (on behalf of herself and La Casa) recently collaborated with the Opportunity Hub to host two events: an Alum Connection session and an Alum-in-Residence. 

Alum Connection events offer students a chance to engage in group discussions, address pressing questions about their academic journeys, and career aspirations, oftentimes in the context of shared identities. These sessions help foster a sense of community and shared experience among participants, empowering them to navigate their paths with confidence. 

On the other hand, our Alum-in-Residence events provide a personalized approach, allowing students to meet individually with distinguished alums such as Yezenia. During these sessions, students benefit from tailored mentorship and career advice, specific to their individual goals and aspirations. This one-on-one setting encourages open dialogue and enables students to gain invaluable insights and guidance from seasoned professionals in their fields of interest.

“They were both very impactful and rewarding events,” she says, explaining that they created a space for other LSA students with similar identities to network, ask questions about navigating grad school and internships, and learn about her experiences on and off campus as a low-income, first-gen student.

Yezenia spoke candidly about the impact of mentorship in avenues like this: “It speaks volumes to students being able to gain exposure like that and go on to thrive in academic and professional settings.” 

To others who are curious about sharing their expertise with students in collaboration with the Opportunity Hub, Yezenia encourages alums and employers to connect with current students. “It's very rewarding to be able to pay it forward,” she says.

“The LSA Opportunity Hub’s mission resonates with me,” Yezenia says. “I think about my undergraduate experiences, and I wish I would have taken a little bit more advantage of some of the resources and opportunities U-M has to offer.”

Yezenia’s collaboration with the Opportunity Hub exemplifies the positive impact alums can have on current students, especially those from historically underserved communities. We strongly encourage alums and employers to explore ways to get involved with the Hub and connect students to powerful opportunities.

Explore our website to learn more.