AU Club Feature: KOGOD Organization of Latinx Leaders Across Business provides networking opportunities
New club provides students space to promote Latinx culture and learn about Latinx business sphere domestically and internationally
The KOGOD Organization of Latinx Leaders Across Business (KOLLAB) seeks to connect Latinx students and allies at American University and offer them personal and professional development opportunities.
KOLLAB was launched virtually at the beginning of this semester and is open to both undergraduate and graduate students, according to KOLLAB’s co-presidents and co-founders Kelly Carrera-Goglas and Marco Ruiz.
Carrera-Goglas, a graduate student in Kogod, said that AU students from all schools are welcome.
“It can be someone that is in another school and is just really interested in networking, hearing about the Latinx community, and also meeting industry leaders with various backgrounds,” Carrera-Goglas said.
Many of KOLLAB’s members are international students, but the organization also offers its American members opportunities to learn more about the various business cultures in Latin American countries. Latinx international students can also learn more about the American business perspective, Ruiz said.
Ana Quiñonez, the club’s treasurer and an international graduate student from Nicaragua, said that she joined KOLLAB to learn more about American business culture and to share her business experience from Nicaragua with her peers.
“For me, it is an opportunity to learn and teach people who have not had the experience of doing business in Latin America - the similarities and differences in doing business [in different countries],” Quiñonez said.
Carrera-Goglas and Ruiz founded the club after expressing interest in a Latinx hub in Kogod that facilitated networking opportunities. Both members had already been in the workforce for several years so they knew how important a strong networking community is for job-seeking Latinxs, Carrera-Goglas and Ruiz said.
“I didn’t know how important [networking and community] would be until I entered the workforce and saw [that] if you want to get a job or an internship somewhere, usually you can get those things through networks,” Carrera-Goglas said. “Being a woman, being a woman of color, being a Latina, there can be even more barriers in front of you, so when I was presented with this opportunity, I told Marco, yes, I am totally for it.”
Currently, all of KOLLAB’s members are graduate students in two-year programs. According to Ruiz, the objective of the first year of KOLLAB is to build a solid foundation so that the organization can continue, even after most of its current members are gone.
Both co-presidents said they have networked with several of AU’s oldest student organizations, absorbing the strategies these organizations have used to promote club engagement and productivity.
While most of its monthly spring meetings focus on recruitment and building stronger relationships between club members, KOLLAB has several events planned for the fall semester, including beginning a speaker series with Latinx leaders, raising awareness of the campaign to make Support Latino Business Day a national holiday and forming partnerships and collaborations with Latinx and immigrant-owned small businesses in the DMV area, according to Carrera-Goglas.
KOLLAB offers AU’s large Hispanic and Latinx community a safe space to engage with others in their community while also expanding their professional network.
“I wanted to use this outlet to build something that [made] campus feel more like home, and it came to my mind that if we started [this organization], then maybe it could make [being online] a little bit more rewarding for us. [We could] get closer to each other as a community,” Ruiz said.