Emma Kelsey – Staff Writer
This week’s Gustie of the Week, Chris Ortiz (‘22), has found numerous ways to connect with his interests and his background here on campus whilst making his mark. A Political Science major and English minor, he is co-president of OLAS, (Organization for Latinx American Students) where members meet weekly to plan events that “showcase the diversity of Latin American food, politics, music, dance, and much more,” Ortiz said. He shares that everyone is welcome to join the group; being Latin American is not required.
Connor Gag (‘22) has known Ortiz since freshman year and witnessed his journey on campus as he became involved in many different areas on campus. He praises Ortiz and his hard work. He shares that Ortiz co-hosted Latinx night just recently, and put a lot of effort into making it a success. “You can really tell with Chris that he wants to do good in the community, he’s also currently volunteering at the church here in town,” Gag said.
Ortiz is also a member of Gustavus Model United Nations, where members “research and represent UN member states in a mock UN assembly to address world issues,” Ortiz said. Ortiz serves as the DLC representative for the Diversity Leadership Council Representative, representing orgs on campus that promote diversity and meet weekly to discuss issues and events that pertain to a vancing diversity.
Furthermore, Ortiz is involved in Speech and Debate where he competes in categories of extemp, impromptu, and debate. He is also a peer advisor for the CICE (Center for International and Cultural Education) office. Ortiz explains that all of his involvements are important to him because of his identity: “I am a Mexican American and grew up in an undocumented migrant household, and policy has played a huge role in my life as well as my identity as a Latin American,” Ortiz said.
Gag shares what impresses him most about Ortiz: “He is always trying new things and going to new places. He has attempted to study abroad multiple times, but due to COVID, that wasn’t really possible. Despite these setbacks, he is still looking into finding ways to go abroad after college. He loves talking to new people and isn’t afraid to share what he thinks,” Gag said.
Another of Ortiz’s friends, Sarah Isbell, shares that Ortiz is not only a very busy person with many responsibilities, but he is also a committed friend who always makes time for those around him. “He is very responsible and respectful. I know that he inspires me and everyone around him to work hard and be more involved on campus. He definitely has a promising future ahead of him,” Isbell said.
Ortiz has led a well-rounded life on campus. He shares that his favorite part about Gustavus is the smaller class sizes, and the connections he is able to make with the faculty. He believes that the more intimate academic setting enables more connections to be made with professors, and a stronger sense of community.
“Just last week I had a professor come and talk to me and ask me how I’ve been. I haven’t had any class with him in almost two years and the fact that he remembered my name so quickly and even remembered what class I was in with him really reminded me how close the community can be,” Ortiz said.
Though Ortiz has had many great experiences and lots to show for it, this year has been challenging. As his final year, he has found it difficult to find a balance between both focusing on what’s ahead and enjoying what he has in the moment. As for the community as a whole here at Gustavus, he finds that people have struggled to navigate the transition to a more “normal” state of the world with socialization being more prevalent and classes returning to in-person. While it has been exciting to host bigger in-person events more frequently and finally have food available, a crucial part of some events, it has been a challenging adjustment.
Ortiz’s time here on the hill has been filled with challenges, uncertainty, and numerous obstacles. Despite all that, he has found a way to make a difference, have irreplaceable experiences, and set an example for other Gusties to follow their passions, become involved on campus, and simply to be a great friend.