DePaul University Newsline > Sections > Student Spotlight > Meet Emily Hurtarte: Leader, friend, voice within the Office of Multicultural Student Success

Meet Emily Hurtarte: Leader, friend, voice within the Office of Multicultural Student Success

Emily Hurtarte stands with arms crossed, wearing a blue jacket over a white T-shirt.
A senior at DePaul, Emily Hurtarte is interested in understanding behavioral neuroscience and neurodegenerative disease. (DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)

As a queer, biracial, first-generation student, Emily Hurtarte knows how difficult it can be to find a sense of belonging. A senior neuroscience major and community service minor, Hurtarte struggled with her identity and building community at DePaul, until she found the Office of Multicultural Student Success. Now Hurtarte works to support other students in similar situations in a variety of ways.

“One of the hardest things was having to balance if I fit in being Hispanic more than I fit in being Filipino,” Hurtarte says. “There were a lot of internal battles. The Office of Multicultural Student Success allowed me to understand that I can be my own person and still feel accepted in both communities at DePaul.”

On a typical day, Hurtarte can be found in the Latinx Cultural Center, one of four identity-specific centers in OMSS, where she works as a student assistant. Through this job, Hurtarte offers help to students of marginalized groups who may be enduring challenges similar to hers.

“Emily strives to create a safe and welcoming working culture at the Centers with her peers,” says Mariela Aranda, the center’s coordinator.

While Hurtarte works in the Latinx Cultural Center, she also is deeply connected to the university's Filipino community through involvement with KALAHI, DePaul’s Filipino student organization.

“The Filipino community has been my backbone for the last four years,” Hurtarte says, adding that it has allowed her to connect with people who share that aspect of her identity. "I attend a lot of Filipino events. By simply being in those spaces and seeing the same faces often, we build this community. The more you interact with the Filipino community, the more you take pride in it.”

As the president of KALAHI for the 2022-23 academic year, Hurtarte looks forward to maintaining a sanctuary where students can share their experiences and discover their own sense of fellowship within DePaul. She already has several general body meetings planned this fall, which involve a range of games and activities for the members to bond over.

Hurtarte’s connections to DePaul go beyond OMSS and KALAHI. She has served as the treasurer of the neuroscience club and as a Chicago Quarter Mentor for the Discover course, "Queer Chicago," for two years.

“The biggest thing is creating a safe space, whether it be virtual or in person,” Hurtarte says. “I dealt with a lot of struggles on my own. Because of that, I share all I have learned and my experiences with other queer kids. I also am religious, as I dabble in being spiritual. I share my stories with queer folk to connect and create friendships based on identity and inclusion in all aspects.”

The combination of OMSS resources, Filipino community involvement and queer-related mentorship allowed Hurtarte to explore, accept and celebrate her identity as she used it as a tool to find the right community. With this active engagement at DePaul and her education in neuroscience and community service, Hurtarte now has the perfect building blocks for her future of caring for others.