PSU graduate in front of mural

Marilyn Quintero, who graduated from PSU this year with a degree in graphic design, poses next to a mural she helped create in the new Casa Latina student center. Photo by Julie Cortez, El Hispanic News

Julie Cortez
El Hispanic News

Portland, OR — Portland State University officially unveiled and opened La Casa Latina, its new cultural and support center for Hispanic students, in early June. Part of the university’s “Éxito” initiative to increase recruitment and success of Latino students, La Casa Latina, which is around the corner from the Multicultural Center in Smith Memorial Student Union, is intended as a place students can gather to socialize, study, and meet with faculty and mentors.

Both President Wim Wiewel and Diversity Chief Jilma Meneses expressed hoped that the small “Casa Latina” will be temporary until a larger one can be secured.

“To be completely honest, it is perhaps more of a ‘Cuarto Latino,’” Wiewel joked, using the Spanish word for “room” (cuarto) rather than “house” (casa).

Both Meneses and Wiewel also praised the artwork that adorns its walls — all created by current and former PSU students — as well as the center’s welcoming atmosphere.

“The artwork is symbolic of everything we’ve talked about in Éxito,” Meneses said. She later added, “It’s a beautiful place that symbolizes our passion and our goal of having a space for our students.”

Mario Quintana, who will begin studying at PSU this fall, said he has encountered a lot of support and mentoring at the university. Quintana picked produce alongside his farmworker parents as a child, experiencing “times of despair” and “moments of hope” along the way. Despite no history of higher education in his family, he said he knew he’d go to college someday.

People viewing mural in La Casa Latina

Photo by Julie Cortez, El Hispanic News

Quintana said he expects that through the Éxito initiative and tangible results like La Casa Latina, PSU will be able to recruit more students like him “now that there’s actually a support system.”

He added that he hopes all students — not just Latinos — will feel welcome in La Casa Latina.

For more information on the Éxito initiative, visit