Coming Full Circle

Flores and Huerta
Sophomore Magdalena Flores and senior Yoseline Huerta attend a 2016 Homecoming tailgate sponsored by the Latino Alumni of Northwestern University. Flores is the student liaison to the LANU board.

On the day Zachary Kisfalusi ’14 made up his mind to attend Valparaiso University, he got a hole-in-one while golfing with his best friend and his younger brother near their hometown of Griffith, Ind. Kisfalusi and his friend had plans to live together at Valparaiso, but when Kisfalusi got home that afternoon, he found a financial aid package from Northwestern in the mail that would “allow me to responsibly make the decision to go to NU and enjoy my time.”

Three weeks later, the friends had a conversation that would resolve Kisfalusi’s dilemma and alter the course of his life. “My best friend told me, ‘If Northwestern is right for you, you should go there. Don’t let me hold you back,’ ” he says.

Kisfalusi, who is the grandson of Mexican and Eastern European immigrants and the first in his family to finish college, did not hold back as a Northwestern student. He double majored in earth and planetary sciences and geography, called football games for WNUR and became active in the Latino student organizations Alianza and Omega Delta Phi fraternity.

Through those groups he learned about the Latino Alumni of Northwestern University, a club that engages students through social and networking events and awards scholarships to juniors and seniors who demonstrate financial need, academic excellence and leadership in the Latino community. In his senior year, Kisfalusi received a LANU Scholarship, which is designed to offset loans and personal debt incurred as part of students’ financial aid packages. LANU has awarded more than $60,000 to support 26 students since 2006.

“The scholarship meant a lot,” he says. “My parents worked hard, and Northwestern covered much of my education, but the toughest years for my family financially were the years my brother and I were both in college.”

LANU started an endowed scholarship fund to enable Latino alumni to leave a legacy at Northwestern. Members also forge early connections with students by planning incoming student welcome receptions, says Carlos Terrazas ’98, who co-founded the club in 2000. At the time, the undergraduate Latino population was 4.2 percent and rising at the University, and LANU wanted to accelerate that growth (it stood at 11.3 percent in the 2015–16 academic year). The club made the “three R’s” part of its founding mission: recruit, retain and return. Subsequent boards organized an annual fundraising gala to honor scholarship recipients and provide opportunities for alumni and students to meet one another.

“Once students graduated and became alumni, we wanted them to come back, give back, be involved and be open to networking and mentorship of younger students,” Terrazas says.

More than a decade later, Arianna Hermosillo ’10 has heeded this call. When she served as the student ­president of Alianza, she recognized the importance of connecting with Latino alumni and created a student liaison position to the LANU board that continues today. As LANU president, Hermosillo helps organize career and networking events and summer barbecues. She also encourages the club’s participation in the Latinx Congratulatory Celebration, an event that honors graduates who identify as Latino, and student-run events, including Festival LatiNU and Latino Heritage Month each October.

“Meeting students where they are and supporting their events is really important,” says Hermosillo. “We also want to identify students who are active on campus currently and will become engaged alumni who carry the torch.”

She hopes the club will increase its national presence while continuing to support students like Kisfalusi, whose LANU Scholarship led to one of his most meaningful experiences at Northwestern: graduation day.

“That day was full circle for me,” he says. “I was able to show my appreciation to my parents and extended family for all the sacrifices they had made. I was blessed to have the opportunity and privilege to do that and further my education more than they ever could themselves.”

Kisfalusi went on to earn a master’s degree in hydrogeology and now works in his “dream job” as a hydrologist for the U.S. Geological Survey in Pueblo, Colo. He wants to support scholarships for students as he gains financial stability. “I know how the scholarship has changed my life, and I want to give that feeling to someone else,” he says.

Learn more about Northwestern alumni club scholarships at

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