Heritage and Service

CAUSA crystallized in 1994 when Cesar Conde ’95 and Carlos Zumpano ’96 bumped into each other in the Yard and discovered they’d had the same idea: Cuban-American students at the College needed a core around which to focus their joy in celebrating and sharing their heritage, and their efforts to promote a free and democratic Cuba. Since then, the Cuban-American Undergraduate Student Association at Harvard (www.harvardcausa.org) has been a model for similar groups at other universities and has reached out to Cuban Americans in the graduate schools and to alumni. 

On October 1-3, CAUSA’s current members, led by co-presidents Daniel Balmori ’11 and David Garcia ’11, convened the group’s first alumni conference: to foster new avenues for service and activism and build bridges across generations. “A Community of Experiences” combined the serious--including talks by former Miami mayor Manny Diaz, a fellow at the Institute of Politics; Modesto A. Maidique, president emeritus of Florida International University, a visiting professor at the Business School; and Jorge I. Domínguez, vice provost for international affairs and Madero professor of Mexican and Latin American politics and economics--with breaks for networking, Cuban fare, and an evening of dominoes, music, and dancing. 

CAUSA’s mission statement calls for “passionately promoting” its goals; the gathering reflected that. Alumni stressed the duty, and satisfaction, of sharing the benefits of a good education. Conde (now president and chief operating officer of Univision Networks) and Zumpano described their projects to help low-income Hispanic youths; Suzanne Besu ’01 told of home visits to persuade protective Cuban-American parents to send their high-achieving children to cold and distant Cambridge. The undergraduates proved their passion in mounting the conference. Their hard work, said Teresita Alvarez-Bjelland ’76, M.B.A. ’79, the Harvard Alumni Association’s first Hispanic president, left her feeling “invigorated, inspired, touched, proud, and hopeful.”

You might also like

Steven Pinker on Apple’s Vision Pro

Professor of psychology on the science and history behind the Vision Pro.

The State of Black America

Harvard African American scholars take stock of a difficult moment. 

Threats Foreign and Domestic

Joseph Nye discusses geopolitics and Harvard’s challenges.

Most popular

An Authentic Act

Basketball coach Kathy Delaney-Smith navigates players’ gender and sexual identity, mental health, and other challenging social issues.

Mass Audubon Ushers in the Spring

Exploring nature through Mass Audubon

Blindspot: A Novel

History professor Jill Lepore is the coauthor, with Jane Kamensky, of the historical novel Blindspot, set in colonial Boston.

More to explore

Photograph of Winthrop Bell 1910

Winthrop Bell

Brief life of a philosopher and spy: 1884-1965

Illustration of people talking to each other with colorful thought bubbles above their heads

Talking about Talking

Fostering healthy disagreement

Vacationing with a Purpose

New England “summer camps” for adults