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Puerto Rican Student Association Dancers Represent In THON 2023

For the second consecutive year, the Puerto Rican Student Association (PRSA) is represented on the floor at THON.

Seniors Jennifer Soler and Delian Colon-Burgos are dancing on the organization’s behalf in THON 2023 in an effort to amplify Puerto Rican voices and raise awareness and funds for the fight against pediatric cancer.

“It’s really cool to continue the legacy of the last year’s dancers and have representation of Puerto Rican people on the floor,” Colon-Burgos said. “It’s really an honor.”

Soler and Colon-Burgos are members of the association that provides a unified voice to Puerto Rican members of the community. Recently, the PRSA joined the Latino Caucus, giving a broader platform for Latinx.

The group focuses on “initiating and developing positive change in the policy and administration of the university as it affects Latino students,” according to its website.

Soler and Colon-Burgos weren’t aware of THON’s existence before coming to Penn State. The duo joined PRSA during their freshman year and learned of THON through Penn State’s Involvement Fairs. PRSA has been a THON organization for about 10 to 12 years, which relatively speaking, is pretty new.

Colon-Burgos, a Puerto Rican native, came to Penn State and immediately got involved with PRSA during her freshman year and became a board member the following year.

Soler, a New York native, got involved with THON her freshman year, too. She really enjoyed her time at THON during her first and second years, so Soler became the PRSA THON chair in her junior and senior years. Soler is the THON chair for the Latino Caucus this year as well.

“It did take some time for us to get here. It’s a little difficult for PRSA because Puerto Ricans don’t really know about THON, so it’s a little harder for us to raise money sometimes, especially this year with the hurricane,” Soler explained.

Despite this challenge, PRSA primarily raises money from PRSA alumni, DonorDrives, and its annual coquito sales for THON. Coquitos are a traditional holiday drink that originated in Puerto Rico.

As a small organization, PRSA also has difficulty getting its members involved with THON. Many members are first-generation college students from Puerto Rico, so “pushing” THON to these members is a challenge. Regardless, PRSA members came out to support its dancers from the stands throughout all of THON Weekend.

“I love having Puerto Rican representation, and it’s an honor to be a part of that representation,” Colon-Burgos said. “Cancer is also super close to my family. My grandpa has cancer, and family members have passed away because of cancer. I just believe it’s an amazing cause.”

Soler echoed Colon-Burgos’ sentiment and acknowledged the financial burden that cancer can have on families.

“I appreciate THON for helping families with not only treatment, but art therapy, and things like that,” Soler said. “It can be very hard financially for families. I also love having Puerto Rican representation and now Latino Caucus.”

PRSA is one of the few Latinx organizations involved with THON, but Colon-Burgos is hopeful that there will be more and more Latinx representation on the floor and in the stands going forward.

“Every year we are growing bigger and bigger,” Colon-Burgos said. “We try to include as many people as we can.”

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About the Author

Gracie Mullan

Gracie is a senior from Delaware County, Pa, studying telecommunications with a minor in English. In her free time, Gracie likes to read, write, and drink coffee. Get in touch with Gracie on her Instagram @gracie.mullan and for more formal inquiries [email protected].

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