National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 everywhere, including right here on campus. The Hispanic Latino Student Association (HLSA) has already kicked off activities for the month.
Junior nursing major Alondra Quezada is the co-president of HLSA, and she said that the cultural club has been her home since freshman year.
“In the past, we haven’t had as many members, so we would just hang out and plan our events,” Quezada said. “This year is different though, because we have club members now. We really want to spread our culture and encourage others to want to be part of it.”
She said that she’s very open to answering questions about her culture, and she encourages people to ask.
“Last year I did a dance in chapel for Heritage Week, and a lot of people asked me to teach them how to dance after,” she said. “I’m so open to anything, and that’s exactly what HLSA is all about.”
Quezada said that HLSA is hosting many events on campus throughout the month including games, movies and food. At the end of the month, the club is having its semester event called Reventon Latino.
“There will be lots of food, music and dancing and we might have a piñata,” she said. “We just want to do different things to get people integrated, and I’m so excited about it.”
Only about 2% of AU’s student body is Hispanic, so Quezada said it’s exciting that the campus celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month.
“It’s so nice that people want to participate in the events and want to learn about our culture,” she said.
Quezada said that when the former president of HLSA was graduating, she was asked to take that position along with Nia Carter. Although she was nervous, Quezada explained that she was also excited.
“I didn’t have to think about it; I just said yes,” she said. “I felt like we had an amazing leader, and she taught me so many things. Coming into this position, I felt like I was ready to take on anything. I also knew it would make things a lot easier having Nia by my side.”
Sophomore musical theater and marketing major Jesse Hernandez is from Trujillo, Peru. As the only Peruvian on campus, he said that Hispanic Heritage Month means a lot to him.
“Being the only Peruvian here is difficult sometimes, because it can be hard to expand on your own culture,” Hernandez said. “Heritage month lets us do a lot more events and things that bring us together as a culture.
“I feel like I can express myself a little bit more than throughout the year,” he said. “There aren’t many of us, so it makes me happy that people can see where I come from and what I do within my culture.”
Linda Robertson is the secretary for the Cultural Resource Center, and has been the advisor for HLSA since it was formed. The club was started by alumni Ariana Milla-Ramirez and Angel Rodriguez.
“HLSA was formed by a group of Hispanic-Latino students who wanted to become more involved in promoting their culture,” Robertson said. “The CRC has helped them promote events, and we are very excited to be part of that process.”
Robertson said that she has a strong connection with the Hispanic heritage because she grew up immersed in that culture.
“I grew up in south Texas and lived in Ecuador for four years,” she said. “It’s nice to have a group of people who remind me of home.”
She hopes that everyone who joins HLSA will also find a home. She said that you do not have to be Hispanic or Latino to have a strong connection with the culture.
“HLSA is a place where we don’t feel like the only one, and a place where people don’t ask why we do things a certain way,” Robertson said. “We like to talk about all the differences in the Hispanic-Latino community. I love hearing stories from home and things that the students do on campus.”
Robertson said that AU needs a cultural club like HLSA, because the U.S. economy is made stronger by the Hispanic-Latino community.