Campus ministry strives to welcome more Latinx students


Carol Ascencio, a recent App State graduate, started Destino in 2018 to address the need for a Hispanic-based ministry community on campus. They meet every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in Room 155 of the Plemmons Student Union.

Marlen Cardenas, Reporter

When Stephany Garcia was trying to find a campus ministry she felt comfortable joining, she was about to give up until she heard an announcement at a fall 2018 Campus Crusade for Christ, or Cru, meeting about a new campus ministry for the Latinx community. 

“I was like, ‘This is like a sign from God,’” the junior industrial design major said. “I grew up in Colombia, and I was not very comfortable reading the Bible in English or praying in English because then I would focus more on the words.”

Destino is a ministry that is part of Cru and meets once a week for Bible study.

Carol Ascencio, who graduated in 2019, and her sister, Raquel, started Destino in fall 2018 because they said they realized the Latinx community on campus is the biggest congregation, yet no one was reaching out to them. 

“I was trying to find something that I identified with in this school, (and) nothing stood out. I didn’t see many people of color or people that spoke Spanish at the beginning,” Garcia said. “Destino is a small, (mostly) Hispanic community that tries to achieve a space for students to be vulnerable, and I feel like we do not see much of that in Appalachian.”

Freshman apparel design & merchandising major Stephanie Orellana likes Destino because it is a smaller group of people that she feels like she can relate to. 

“A lot of the ministries at App are not very diverse, so this being a smaller group and (with) people that share your culture, you feel a lot closer with them, and they understand where you are coming from,” Orellana said. 

Senior exercise science major Letissia Akue-ka said she also feels the most comfortable at Destino, even though she is not Latinx.

“I joined because I was looking for a Bible study, and I have been to several ones, and I just did not feel comfortable,” Akue-ka said. “It is just nice to culturally relate to other people, even though I am African.”

During Destino meetings, members read certain Bible verses and talk about how it relates to their daily lives. 

Destino is a small, (mostly) Hispanic community that tries to achieve a space for students to be vulnerable, and I feel like we do not see much of that in Appalachian.

— Stephany Garcia

“Sometimes, we are very personal, and we get down to what has been bothering us, and we also pray for each other,” Orellana said. 

Since starting, Ascencio said the club has grown from five to 20 members. 

“Destino is really big around the U.S., especially in California. They have different Destino groups around different universities,” Garcia said. 

Destino had a conference in California in January and a couple of members from App State attended.

“We saw a bunch of different people,” Akue-ka said. “It was nice to see (Destino) on a bigger scale.”

Garcia said seeing larger Destino groups from universities across the U.S. gave her hope that the same will happen at App State.

“If you do not feel represented in a group, Destino is that space for you to at least feel represented because your voice is going to be heard,” Garcia said. “You will be joining a familia.” 

Destino meets every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in Plemmons Student Union Room 155.