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Georgia State’s Latin sorority donates over $1,000 to epilepsy foundation

Georgia State students poured into the speaker’s auditorium in Student Center East while “Men in Black” by Will Smith blared over the speakers. Four students are invited to the stage, dressed in their best formal wear and compete in a male beauty pageant, hoping to win the hearts of the judges. 

Welcome to the sixth annual Mr. Unstoppable event hosted by Georgia State’s Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc (LTA). The event’s theme was based on the film “Men in Black,” with each participant donning suits and referred to as “agents.” 

The sorority sisters held the event to raise money for the Epilepsy Foundation of Georgia. The four contestants took the stage to perform a synchronized dance, answer trivia questions about epilepsy and showcase a personal talent. 

The crowd was full of cheers, claps and words of encouragement for the contestants. At the end of the night, senior Jorge Vasquez, also known as “Agent J,” was crowned Mr. Unstoppable. 

Vasquez is a member of La Unidad Latina, Lambda Upsion Lambda Fraternity Inc. He learned about the Mr. Unstoppable event through his fraternity and from friends in LTA. 

Wanting to live senior year to the fullest, Vasquez decided to compete in the pageant to “step outside of my comfort zone, and this was the perfect opportunity for me to show people who I am.”

For the talent portion, Vasquez serenaded the crowd with “Darte un Beso” by Prince Royce on guitar and won the judges’ affection.  

Each contestant was responsible for promoting the fundraiser via social media and in-person campaigns. Thanks to the contestants and with the help of the Georgia State community, the Delta Beta chapter raised $1,303 in donations. 

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As a child, Vasquez had a friend who lived with epilepsy. He said he used this fundraiser as a way to honor his old friend. Through his fraternity’s connections, Vasquez happily received donations from people across the country.

LTA has a knack for community service. Among other initiatives, LTA collected 50 bras from the Panther community last month to donate to Free The Girls, a non-profit organization dedicated to reintegrating women rescued from sex trafficking back into society. 

President Mariana Oritz said she is grateful to be allowed the chance to aid her community. 

“I love being able to do a lot of community service and doing programs that educate Georgia State about different issues that are going on,” Oritz said. “Not just [issues] in the Latinx community, but for women, for students, for immigrants, refugees.”

Oritz and Vice President Amy Vicente both cite education and community outreach as the main goals of their organization. LTA aims to educate the Georgia State community about the challenges that minorities may face.

“A lot of our sisters are first-generation students, so education is something that is very prominent within our organization,” Vicente said. “We love putting on educational events on different topics, such as community-based outreach, service opportunities or events pertaining to [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] and immigration rights. So our purpose is rooted in providing educational opportunities for our [Georgia State] friends to be able to become more knowledgeable about those topics.”

Oritz agrees that adding that these conversations are essential to foster an inclusive campus and community.

“We provide a safe space to have different conversations about immigration status, refugee status, DACA and education,” Oritz said. “[We discuss] how it feels to be a woman and a minority on a college campus, talk about some of the barriers we face and how we can overcome these barriers. I think that’s really important because we see that we’re not so different overall.” 

For the members of LTA, the organization has served as a support system and a kind of family for its members. 

The transition from high school to college was difficult for Vicente, and LTA proved to be a welcoming place on campus. 

“My sisters have helped me grow outside of my comfort zone and, overall, they’re just really encouraging personally, academically and professionally,” Vicente said. “They are a strong backbone that I can rely on whenever I need them.”

Oritz attended a predominantly white high school. Craving a more inclusive community, she was enticed by Georgia State’s extremely diverse student body. Serving as president of LTA has given Oritz the chance to engage with this diversity.

“[We strive] to help students that are of minority status, and help reach their goals of trying to pursue higher education,” Oritz said.

This year’s chapter philanthropy group was chosen to honor a founding sister who lives with epilepsy. Oritz said the chapter hoped to use the Mr. Unstoppable event as an entertaining way to educate the Panther community about epilepsy. 

Oritz and Vicente deem this year’s Mr. Unstoppable event as a success. Last year, the event had six contestants, two more than this year, but the 2019 participants raised several hundred dollars more. 

Vicente said she is thankful for the fundraising efforts and companionship of the contestants, who were “super into it.”

“It’s awesome to see a group of guys that perhaps didn’t know one another in the beginning, turning out to be really, really good friends,” Vicente said. “It’s awesome to see the connection they’re able to make with themselves, as well as the sisters. Overall, I think the money raised is going to do wonders with the Epilepsy Foundation of Georgia, and it was a successful event for sure.”

The event and the Mr. Unstoppable title have given Vasquez a confidence-boost and an overall fun experience.

“It was amazing,” Vasquez said. “I’m not an outgoing person. I’m more of an introvert and actually winning gave me confidence. I thought to myself, ‘If I can win a pageant, I can do anything.’ I’m not limited no more. I feel like anything is possible.”