UCF’s Puerto Rican Student Association held their first meeting of the semester Thursday, it was attended by over 60 students and members of the media including CNN.

“At the beginning we had like 30 or 40 students with maybe half of them coming to meetings, but after hurricane Maria a lot of students started to come, and we have now about 148 members,” Puerto Rican Student Association president and industrial engineering major, Jennifer Tirado said.

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The event was sponsored by the Office of Diversity and inclusion and the Latino Faculty and Staff Association. It is a chance for UCF to support diversity and ensure that Puerto Rican students who transferred to UCF after the hurricane have the support they need as they transition to this new environment.

“This is an example of things that we like to do on campus, with Hispanic Heritage month coming up September 15 through October 15. So, we’re very involved in promoting all of our cultures and of course as a Hispanic Serving Institution, our Latino community,” Cyndia Muñiz, assistant director of Hispanic Serving Initiatives at the Office of Diversity and Inclusion said.

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Over 200 Puerto Rican students joined UCF last spring following hurricane Maria, many had their schools shut down because of the storm. One of the students was starting her third year at a university in Puerto Rico when the hurricane struck. She decided to move and join UCF last spring after her campus shut down, to continue her Biomedical Sciences degree.

“After hurricane Maria it was really bad, we got water like a month later and power about three months later,” Nalysha Torres, 20, said.

Guests enjoyed a Puerto Rican dinner and folk dance in a very lively and vibrant atmosphere. About 20 members danced to the tune of a traditional music band.

The event started out with an introduction to the club and their new e-board and included brief statements from members of Latino faculty and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Students then got a chance to socialize, new members now know that there is a strong community of Puerto Rican students on campus.

“When I first came there were like four or five that I knew who came from the island but now we have over a hundred. When I came to Orlando I never expected to have so many Puerto Ricans in the same room, so it’s really good,” Tirado said.