Sigma Lambda Upsilon/Señoritas Latinas Unidas Sorority Inc. has made history as the first Latina sorority to endow a scholarship at Syracuse University. The Eta chapter, which celebrates the 30th anniversary of its founding at Syracuse this year, hit its $100,000 endowment goal in September.
“As the first Latina sorority at Syracuse University, this is an important legacy,” says Rosann Santos ’95, who helped lead the fundraising effort.
The achievement is particularly impressive given the relatively small size of the chapter—77 members have been initiated—and that it was raised in only two years.
The seed was planted in 2019, when Rachel Vassel ’91, G’21, associate vice president of multicultural advancement, approached Santos, director of alumni engagement at John Jay College, and Kristin Bragg ’93, executive vice president of pricing, planning and operations at WarnerMedia Ad Sales, asking if the organization would consider fundraising for an Our Time Has Come Scholarship.
Neither woman—both founding members of the Eta chapter—is known to back down from a challenge and both are still integrally involved with Syracuse University. Both are members of the Office of Multicultural Advancement Advisory Council, and Santos had recently been named co-chair of CBT 2020. “With our 30th anniversary approaching, the time was right to challenge our members to commit to this effort to give back and help future generations of students of color,” Santos says. “We may be a small organization, but our focus has always been on academic excellence and community service.”
The fundraising campaign was launched in September 2020 during the Virtual CBT with an ambitious goal to raise $100,000 by September 2022. “It was a lot of grassroots fundraising. A lot of hustle,” says Santos, who is proud to have achieved her goal of 100-percent participation from active sisters.
Santos is particularly thankful to several Hermanas who made significant gifts over the summer, closing the gap to hit the $100,000 mark on schedule.
“I’m also thankful to the many alumni members of other NPHC and NALFO organizations on campus who contributed to honor our anniversary and help us meet our goal, and to our active chapter and their creative fundraising efforts, including taking pies in the face, to raise money for this scholarship,” she says.
Because some gifts were made in the form of multi-year pledges, the group has only collected $70,000 in cash of the $100,000 pledged thus far. “The endowment won’t pay out until we have $100,000 paid, so we are continuing to fundraise in hopes we can start giving out the scholarship sooner rather than later,” Santos says.
Preference for the need-based scholarship will be given to members of Sigma Lambda Upsilon in good academic standing. Otherwise, the scholarship will be awarded to an underrepresented female student, as determined by the Financial Aid office.
“I’m incredibly proud of this scholarship,” says Santos. “We are a group of Spanish-speaking girls who mostly come from working-class environments in New York City. I never could have imagined that we could raise $100,000. But as grown women with great careers, we did this. I’m very proud our organization is able to support diversity and inclusion at Syracuse University in this way.”