To make the transition to Penn State more welcoming for Latino students, Penn State alumnus and graduate student at Cornell University Fernando Muñoz created Papi Chulo Entertainment — a social entrepreneurship created to provide social equity and community empowerment to minoritized populations — while he was a student.
“I was lucky enough to get a full ride to Penn State, and when I got here, I noticed that the East Coast culture was completely different,” Muñoz, who graduated from Penn State in 2021, said. “Here, race was like 30 years behind.”
Muñoz said attempting to fit in as someone who’s Latino at an efficiently white institution inspired him to create a space where students like him felt comfortable.
“[Changing] a community into what you want is not the best thing,” Muñoz said. “Instead, you should create your own because that expands the pot of multiculturalism rather than dividing up the resources that are already there.”
Papi Chulo started to host events aimed at the Latino community during summer 2019 for students to connect with Latino culture and share their own.
“We started doing house parties in my friends’ places, then we had an established house in 2019, and it just kept going,” Muñoz said.
Aside from social events like parties, Papi Chulo has focused on providing community service — especially during the pandemic.
“When the pandemic happened, we did a lot of surviving and getting the name going by doing community events, like delivery services for people [who] couldn’t leave their houses and even a vote drive to the polls,” Muñoz said.
Muñoz said what sets the Papi Chulo community apart from others is it was never about making money or hosting parties.
“It was more about creating a community and space as Latinos and also for those who believe in a multicultural community that we want to see ourselves in,” Muñoz said.
Nowadays, Papi Chulo has expanded into a community that not only focuses on the social aspects of the college experience but also provides educational spaces to encourage conversations about important topics and recurring issues in the Latino community.
Muñoz said Papi Chulo does “a little bit of everything,” including talking about social issues, THON, immigration and knowing their rights.
An active member of Papi Chulo, Giselle Concepcion said Papi Chulo is all about community and inclusivity, especially for younger students who may feel a sense of detachment from existing social organizations.
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“I know that a lot of students at Penn State, especially younger students, don’t really know where to find a community,” Concepcion (freshman-political science) said. “Especially if they are a minority student because the way people socialize here might be different from where they come from.”
In addition to creating bonds between cultures, Papi Chulo has been one of the biggest platforms for Latino students on campus to meet and establish longterm friendships.
“I definitely think that it plays a role and helps meeting different types of people, meeting other Latino students and making friends,” Concepcion said.
Despite not attending Penn State anymore and living in another state, Muñoz said the distance has not become a problem, for he still frequently comes back to keep giving to the community and providing spaces to keep Papi Chulo active.
Seth Ganie is one of the many members of this multicultural community and credits Papi Chulo as what encouraged him to not transfer to another school during his first semester.
“It’s a place I go to, and I actually feel welcomed there. Being at Penn State, I thought that I didn’t belong here whatsoever,” Ganie (freshman-division of undergraduate studies) said. “Ever since I became a part of Papi Chulo, I just found my place.”
According to Muñoz, many students of color—like himself—felt like there was a noticeable difference between their college experience and the one white students had. This need for students of color to experience the university the same way as the people around him is what kept him motivated to keep working on Papi Chulo, he said.
“A white student may have a fraternity or their family who can get a tailgate or provide opportunities that are kind of ingrained in the culture of going to Penn State,” Muñoz said. “Lots of students of color never even attended a tailgate, because where do they go?”
One of the most important aspects that has made Papi Chulo grow for more than two years now is the unity between different groups of students who come from various racial and cultural backgrounds.
Today, Papi Chulo has a growing community — where Latino students aren’t even the majority — as its motto is “never [say] ‘no’ to anyone that wants to come in.”
“I put tons of people. It’s not like Papi Chulo is just Hispanic people, but there are people from all cultures,” Ganie said. “This is a place where people from any race and gender orientation come over and just have a good time.”
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