top of page
  • Writer's pictureLa Voz Latina

A legacy left for Boricuas y Dominicanos

Updated: Mar 4

Written by: Milvian Gonzalez 🇬🇹🇧🇿

Members of the Puerto Rican Dominican Student Association at the second look fair (Photo courtesy of Maximiliano Gonzalez-Cruz)

Two University of Maryland students set out to leave their mark by creating a haven for Puerto Rican and Dominican students because they felt they did not have a space where they felt they could express their culture free from racial prejudice.

Due to the large number of people of African descent in both the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, both groups face discrimination. Both struggle connecting culturally with other Latinos because of their Caribbean heritage and speaking different Spanish dialects than most Latinos. 

“We also want to emphasize our culture [and teach people] what they don’t really know about it. Right now people kind of see Puerto Rican and Dominican culture and they just think about the music, but there’s a lot more than that,” says Yobany Matos Jr., co-President of the organization and senior mechanical engineering major. 

“We just kinda wanted to find that place for everyone to feel comfortable, as much as it is really nice connecting with other Latinos, I think we felt that there was something missing,” Angelina Santos, co-President and senior communications major said.

Apart from the Puerto Rican Dominican Student Association (PRDSA) being a place of teaching, co-presidents Matos Jr. and Santos also wanted the organization to be a refuge, where Dominican and Puerto Rican students would be able to freely express themselves without judgment from others. A place where they weren’t a minority amongst other Latinos and non-Hispanic Caribbeans.

“Caribbean Latinos kind of all bond in the things that we go through in terms of the type of racism that they receive,” says Santos.

Despite its name and goal of giving both Dominicans and Puerto Ricans a space where they are no longer a minority, both co-presidents emphasize that anyone is welcome to join the organization.

“You don’t have to be Puerto Rican or Dominican. It’s just a matter of learning to appreciate the [Puerto Rican and Dominican] culture,” says Matos. 

“We just wanted to educate people because we're still a minority in those [Latino and Caribbean] spaces, so with this, we really have the platform to show people who we are outside of what they already know,” says Santos.

With the two co-presidents being in their final semester here at the University of Maryland, Matos and Santos have set plans to ensure their legacy continues.

Freshman psychology major Sophia Ubiera was given the position of Freshman Representative when the organization's executive board was officially formed over the winter break. As a freshman representative, Ubiera is given the responsibility of observing the roles of the upperclassmen members and seeing what leadership position she would like to take on in the future.

Ubiera has also worked on getting underclassmen to join the organization. She thinks the space gives Afro-Latinos a place where they are free of judgment or having their ethnicity questioned.

“There are other people of color who are like ‘no you’re Black, you’re not Hispanic, like you're delusional, you’re just trying to be something you’re not,’ but this is my culture you know? I grew up speaking Spanish,” Ubiera said.


In the future, Ubiera says she would love to host events that are special to Dominican culture, such as baseball, a well liked sport in Dominican Republic since it was introduced to them by Cubans in the 19th century.

“One of the things that I really want to do is have a baseball day, just like going outside playing baseball. You don’t have to necessarily know the rules or be really good, but it’s a good idea to get people outside,” Ubiera said.

Correction: Sophia Ubiera's name was originally spelled as Sofia Ubiera. The article now reflects this change.


bottom of page