ASU Hispanic Business Students Association celebrates 50th anniversary

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The ASU Hispanic Business Students Association was formed at a time when Hispanics were just starting to receive opportunities they had previously been denied. According to the association’s website, it was “organized in 1974 as the Chicano Business Students Association. The organization was renamed in 1979 and became the Hispanic Business Students Association. The goals of the association are to provide Hispanic students with educational opportunities, career options in business, and association with students who have different goals but mutual interests.”

We talked about the association and its history with Dr. Louis Olivas, a founder and advisor for the association and an ASU Professor Emeritus. Also, former ASU student Michael Trejo shared his experience with the association and what it meant to him. Trejo said he refers to Olivas as “Dr. O.”

“I really needed to find a home on campus, and that very quickly became the Hispanic Business Students Association. The culture of the organization just took me almost immediately, and I found where I was meant to be on campus. So the organization is run like a business. Doctor O. made sure of that. But it also had a very distinct element of community service too. ASU is a big place, and everybody is sort of looking for where they belong in that big place,” Trejo said.

Dr. Olivas became a role model and mentor for Trejo and wrote recommendation letters that he said helped him get into Harvard and get an internship on Wall Street.

“The presence of Latinos at the College of Business was nil,” Dr. Olivas said. “I don’t ever recall in the first five or six years that I ever had a Latina or Latino in any of my business classes, and so it started to evolve when I arrived in 1979.”

The program is unlike any other that exists in the country, and even though it’s successful, it hasn’t been replicated at other universities, according to Dr. Olivas.

Dr. Olivas recently made history by having an endowed Chair named after him, making him the first Latino or Latina to have a Chair named for him at a top ranked business school in the country.

“When you’re a professor at a university, every college will have an endowed Chair, and those endowed Chairs, you’ll look over the leaders, the scholars, that are well known for what they’re doing. So when you get to see more of those Chairs to be significant, and you look at them saying, “Well, maybe someday I’ll sit in the Chair,” less than 5% will get to sit in that Chair. But to have a Chair named after me, I’m truly humbled and honored,” Dr. Olivas said.

Dr. Louis Olivas, founder and advisor, ASU Hispanic Business Students Association, ASU Professor Emeritus
Michael Trejo, former ASU student and association member

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