In the short time freshman Paul DiNapoli has been at the University of Pennsylvania, heâs become a passionate advocate for the Latino community.
DiNapoli became involved in La Casa Latina and the Latino Coalition after hearing about the campus student cultural groups during New Student Orientation.
Being a part of the groups has put the Voorhees, N.J. man in touch with his heritage. His mother is from Colombia and his father is Italian-American. Dinners celebrating major holidays, such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, always feature some of his momâs Colombian specialties, including empanadas and buĂ±uelos, fried dough thatâs similar to doughnuts.
Through his involvement in Pennâs Latino community, DiNapoli was chosen to attend the annual Latino Ivy League Conference, which brings together students from all eight Ivies.
DiNapoli was among 10 students representing Penn at the conference held at Columbia University in New York in early November.
âIt was really great to compare notes and see whatâs going on at the different schools,â DiNapoli says.
In the conferenceâs Poetry CafĂ© event, some attendees read their own poetry about being Latino. Other sessions gave students an opportunity to discuss issues they were facing in their schools and to share information and resources.
The conference attendees are planning to continue to work together to encourage Latino children to stay in school and suggest ways in which they can prepare for college.
âI think we need to reach out to younger kids about college,â DiNapoli says. âThatâs where we can make a difference.â
Now, heâs inspired to do more to assist the community.
âWe really do have a voice, and, if we choose to use it, we can get a lot done in our communities,â DiNapoli says. âNot just at our universities but around our neighborhoods and maybe worldwide.â
Heâll be back at the conference next year. Penn Latino student groups selected DiNapoli as one of the two head delegates to represent Penn at the Latino Ivy League Conference in 2014.