‘Stars shine bright’ at Noche de las Estrellas

Cortney Wood

A fraction of a second before the roaring applause erupted, Velia Lozano’s, custodian and facility services member, delighted squeal rang out in the suite. The crowd turned to her, smiles blinding, and cheered for the powerhouse as she wiped tears away from her eyes in gratitude. As she made her way to the stage, the crowd gave a standing ovation to the women who was nominated for her dedication to the university and the students.

To honor and celebrate hispanic students and faculty like Lozano, members from the Organization of Hispanic Students held the first annual Noche de las Estrellas gala Oct. 15.

Along with the key note speaker Stephanie Robles, assistant principal at Barwise Middle School, students and faculty received awards based off nominations from peers.

“Because we stress that this is a diverse campus and a liberal arts university, it’s great we are able to celebrate all cultures,” Leia De La Garza, criminal justice junior and Rising Latina award winner, said. “Having this event, it brings together not only Hispanics, but also organizations like the Black Student Union, fraternities, sororities and other organizations. We should host more events like this that bring everyone together.”

Lozano, who received the only faculty award of the night, was speechless when her name was announced, and could barely compose herself after she won.

Noche de las Estrellas from Cortney Wood on Vimeo.

“It was a big surprise for me, and I feel big emotion,” Lozano said. “I love my peoples, I love the the students, I love job, I love my building, I love MSU and I feel very grateful. This is my second family, so it’s very special to me.”

Following the event, music blasted through the Comanche Suites and attendees danced well into the night. As a dance circle formed, Lozano found herself right in the middle, enjoying the rest of the night.

According to Cynthia Hubbard, marketing sophomore and OHS secretary, students are surrounded by opportunities to invest and learn about other cultures and participate in “incredibly fun” events like Noche de las Estrellas and she hopes to expose people to the depth found in Hispanic cultures.

“There are always people that want to know about my culture, so I know there always a community behind me,” Hubbard said. “There are posters, signs and postmasters all around campus, so if you don’t pay attention to what’s going on around them, they miss what’s going on and that’s a shame.”

Lozano was nominated by faculty members.

About 100 people attended the gala as Hispanic Heritage Month comes to a close. Maria Peña, Student Government Association president, opened the gala and introduced Robles, Hispanic community advocate. After working in the Wichita Falls Independent School District, Robles spoke about her endurance in the teaching and administrative positions despite being labeled by her activism in the hispanic community.

According to Robles, the theme encouraged people to “be brave, be bright, be bold and more than anything be active” in the university and encourage campus wide involvement.

“Being a star requires you to speak up when other will not,” Robles said. “More than anything, it requires you to have strong leadership and move in the right direction. I challenge you all to come together at events like this, not just to dress up in pretty dresses, but to celebrate our culture and celebrate each other through community by speaking up for those who don’t have a voice.”

After moving to several different schools to help with predominately hispanic speaking schools failing to meet either state or national requirements, Robles said each person in the community has the responsibility to help one another by any means.

“It’s your responsibly by being in a university, so you have the awesome opportunity to think about those who have gone before you who were stars and paved the way for you by being brave and honorable,” Robles said. “Think about those things by being brave and bright in the dark places in this world.”

With students from all over the world and the United States, Midwestern very evidently reflect the ideals of America, Hubbard said, and through organizations and events like this, the students welcome that diversity.

“The general idea of America is the melting pot of cultures, and at a liberal arts college, it doesn’t matter what color you are, what religion you worship, all of that is combined,” Hubbard said. “Going into Midwestern, you know it’s a liberal arts college, and you should be accepting of everyone around you.”