Gator Nation News

The Community of Her Dreams

Alumna Dayana Falcon’s ambition is to “show the impact Latino Gators have in the world.” See how she’s doing just that.

Dayana Falcon (BS ’11) is a bigtime career coach and architect of a movement empowering Latinos. But the Gators Unidos founder and “40 Gators Under 40” honoree is far from satisfied with those accomplishments.

“I want to show the impact Latino Gators have in the world,” she says. “We’re creating the community of my dreams.”

Meet the dynamo from Miami:

THEN: A self-described Latina with Cuban roots, Falcon grew up in Miami’s warmth and vibe. She set her sights on UF and became the first in her family to attend college, a goal made possible, she says, when “the Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars program took a chance on me.”

NOW: She and others in her generation of Latino Gators are fostering opportunities for future Latinos who enroll at UF — now 21% of the student population — through mentoring and creating equal access.

THEN: Falcon was delighted to have intersecting identities as a Gator and Latina and looked for ways to express herself. “I was proud of both, but there never was anything that blended UF and my Latino culture,” she says.

NOW: She created Gators Unidos (Gators United) in April 2021 and drew on three generations of UF College of Journalism and Communications grads and students to market it and develop its brand. This May, the nonprofit launched a 25-piece collection of themed T-shirts and baseball caps that celebrate the orange-and-blue heritage of Latino Gators and support scholarships for Latino students. The collection premiered at the UF Bookstore, both retail and online. It includes the Vamos Gators (Let’s Go Gators) T-shirt and shirts for alumni, parents, grandparents, babies, with an upcoming bandana for pets. “My familia made going to college possible,” Falcon says. “This is for them.”

THEN: As an Opportunity Scholar, Falcon knew one day she’d want to create a scholarship for future Latino Gators. “It was important to me that it wasn’t just about money,” she says. “Money is not enough. First generation students need guidance, too, to get through the grind of college.”

NOW: Gators Unidos has funded four $2,500 scholarships in partnership with the Association of Hispanic Alumni. “Millenials know the power of social impact purchasing. As a Latino Gator, I wear Gators Unidos gear and fight the stereotype that Latinos don’t go to college.” Learn more here.