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'A safe space here in Louisville': UofL's first Hispanic sorority founded

Gamma Phi Omega currently has five members and this month they are raising money for those affected in Puerto Rico by Hurricane Ian.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Sororities are nothing new at the University of Louisville (UofL), but one organization is breaking barriers.

Gamma Phi Omega is the university's first Hispanic sorority, and it was founded in February 2022. 

Originally founded in 1991 at Indiana University, Gamma Phi Omega's founding members for the UofL chapter- Itzel Bernabe and Diana Rivas- talk about the importance of their organization.

“I really wanted to bring a safe space here in Louisville as the Latinx population continues to grow," Bernabe said. "They don't really provide that many resources for us on campus. So being able to create like, the safe space for everyone was just something that was really important to all of us.”

Their goals are academic excellence, cultural awareness, sisterhood and community service.

“We work really closely with an organization called La Casita, it's a nonprofit organization here in Louisville that serves the Latinx and immigrant communities," Bernabe said. "We like to volunteer with them and partner with them and offer all of our services to them.”

Bernabe is Mexican and Rivas is half Cuban and half Salvadoran. Both women have big dreams of how they plan to use their degrees.

“I want to get a master's in education, which is in clinical psychology. I want to be able to provide mental health services for the Latinx community here in Louisville, because it's really underserved,” Bernabe said.

"[I'm a] Spanish major, so like, I already speak Spanish at home, but the thing is my goal is to improve my Spanish," Rivas said. "I'm on the pre-med track, so hopefully my goal is to become a physician. I'm looking into pediatrics.”

Both women are first generation college students understanding the importance and sacrifices their families made.

“I know I'm privileged, especially from that point of view. Like my parents, unfortunately, they were not able [to] go because due to certain circumstances back in their country, so being first generation, like the sacrifices they made, we got, we got to show it,” Rivas said.

Currently, Gamma Phi Omega has five members and this month they are raising money for those affected in Puerto Rico by Hurricane Ian.

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►Contact WHAS11’s Sherlene Shanklin at sshanklin@whas11.com or follow her on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram. Photojournalist Destinee Flowers and edited by Madelyn Carey. 

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