The Indiana Latino Expo (ILE) is an annual event bringing together Indiana's Latinx population through various virtual experiences. Traditionally held every year at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, ILE moved to an online platform due to the COVID-19 pandemic. By transitioning into a digital space, ILE broadened their reach and created new and unique experiences for the Latinx community across Indiana.
Because of this new virtual experience, Indiana University created various experiences for students interested in learning more about IU and higher education.
"ILE is a labor of love with a lot of good people," Julia Jennings, director of Community and School Partnerships, said. Jennings, one of the 21st Century Scholar's subcommittee chairs who worked to provide 21st Century Scholar information, felt her subcommittee worked well together and was open and excited to discuss how to give the best ILE experience possible. "I left my first meeting knowing I had a great set of partners," she said. We asked ourselves, "what do we want to get across in this new format, what makes sense, and how do we make it familiar for students? And I am very proud of what we accomplished."
The 21st Century Scholar Program hosted three workshops providing a wide variety of information to students, such as achieving academic success and understanding financial aid—available in English and Spanish. Also offered were virtual tours of IU campuses and discussions on career planning after college. Because of the virtual environment, these workshops were recorded and are available by clicking here.
Additionally, IU offered a Spanish webinar featuring IU faculty, alumni, and students to help prospective students and parents prepare for college and learn what to expect. The webinar provided families with important information on planning for college, how parents can best support their students, paying for college, and the roles professors play outside the classroom. Lillian Casillas, director of La Casa/Latino Culture Center, co-chaired this webinar.
Casillas noted that this virtual environment allowed IU to cast a wider net than in previous years, allowing them to connect with IU's sister campuses. "This was exciting for us," she said. "This level of accessibility is great for individuals who are maybe not as strong in English, but still need that information."
This webinar was also recorded and is available to view by clicking here.
Austin Castillo, a junior at IUPUI, has been volunteering at ILE since high school—traditionally in support roles. However, this year Austin joined the all-Spanish webinar to provide a student perspective to those curious. Austin felt the best part of being on the webinar was "the ability to connect to the community and describe my journey to those interested. I'm a first-gen student, and I want to help someone who was in my position to get involved and provide the same university experience as me."
As ILE continues, Jennings, Casillas, and Castillo look forward to hearing how this virtual format may affect future ILEs. "This event is so wonderful; I am so excited to see where it goes next year," Casillas said.
Additionally, IU campus representatives were featured in a series of Telemundo interviews which can be found here.