LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – According to data from 2019, just four percent of students enrolled at UW-La Crosse and Viterbo University were Hispanic or Latino.

First News at Nine’s Alex Loroff explains the importance of connecting students of all different cultures with one another.

A professor at Viterbo University is helping his students connect with the Hispanic community through journalism.

Dr. Jesus Jambrina created the El Sol Spanish newspaper as part of his teaching curriculum, but it also serves as a way to broaden culture understandings.

“Most of our students come from rural Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota,” Jambrina explained. “As they develop their language skills, they also know about the culture, the challenges that the community have had.”

The newspaper has been put together each semester since 2016, with students covering the most important topics going on at the time.

“We’ve discussed COVID-19 and how that has specifically impacted the Latinx community,” El Sol writer Sheridan Schmitt said. “There’s an article discussing how Latinx and other minority groups can influence elections, and some of their challenges and barriers that may also exist from being able to truly be involved in those election processes.”

Schmitt is appreciative that El Sol has helped her connect to different groups of people in La Crosse.

She hopes readers of the newspaper will help others expand their horizons and learn more about different cultures.

“I feel like it just better impacts how you can interact with other individuals and kind of see their points of views,” Schmitt added.

While Jambrina is proud of the work his students have done, he believes there’s a broader audience that can still be reached.

“The idea is that the newspaper will serve not only the La Crosse community, but also southwest Minnesota and northeast Iowa,” Jambrina detailed. “Not only for Latinos, but all the population that is speaking Spanish in the area.”

Ultimately, Jambrina hopes El Sol can continue to build bridges between students at Viterbo and the Hispanic community in the Coulee Region.

In La Crosse, Alex Loroff, First News at Nine.

To continue fostering inclusivity, Viterbi recently appointed a vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The VP will lead the university’s social justice and equity initiatives.