Hispanic Heritage Month: History, Culture and Hope at MSU Texas


Stephanie Robledo

Nursing sophomore Dagmawit Getaneh and nursing freshman Amerti Gonfa create sculptures inspired by alebrijes at the Día de Los Muertos, Oct. 7.

Every year, Hispanic Heritage Month takes place from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. During this month, across the nation, Hispanic culture and history are recognized in a variety of ways. MSU Texas held 10 events throughout this period to bring the campus together in their celebrations.

“When people think of ‘Hispanic’ in MSU and Texas, they usually think of just ‘Mexican,’ but there are really so many different kinds,” Sky Barron, mass communication senior and vice president of the Organization of Hispanic Students (OHS), said. “There are so many different places and parts of the world to be celebrated, and there are completely different ways they do it.”

The events were planned by the Hispanic Heritage Month Committee. The committee is made up of different students, staff and organizations that wanted to participate in the celebration planning.

“MOSAIC promoted the whole month and actually got the committee together…. We did help with some of the events, but it was really the committee that put in most of the work,” Ruby Garrett, assistant director of MOSAIC Cross-Cultural Center, said.

According to Jazael García, management and finance senior and president of OHS, the committee ran into a few problems. At the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, a few members, including Garcia himself, tested positive for COVID-19. This made him unable to participate in the first events or be there for the process and celebrations. Still, the celebrations have been deemed a huge success based on feedback MOSAIC has received.

LGBTQ Stand Council member Bella Muniz says she created the self portrait event as a celebration of Frida Kahlo and Hispanic Heritage Month, but also wanted to celebrate the start of LGBTQ History Month.
LGBTQ Stand Council member Bella Muniz says she created the self portrait event as a celebration of Frida Kahlo and Hispanic Heritage Month, but also wanted to celebrate the start of LGBTQ History Month, Oct. 6. (Kayla Le)

“[The students] definitely thought the events were good; they were fun,” Garrett said. “As MOSAIC, we receive a majority of the feedback from events like these and overall, students seemed to enjoy it a lot.”

Across the board, VIVA MSU! was considered one of the most popular events of the month. It kicked off the celebrations with live music, crafts and food like tacos and conchas, a traditional Mexican pastries. It encompassed all of Hispanic culture in a way that brought students together.

“There were booths for different organizations giving out prizes and free things for students and [letting] them know they can join. It was a really good event that highlighted everybody,” Garrett said.

Some of the other events included a bachata dance class, a cooking class, an outdoor movie and a painting party. Multiple campus organizations stepped in to help out and participate. Sigma Lambda Alpha, a Hispanic-based sorority, and Zavala, a local Hispanic community nonprofit, provided resources and even hosted some events.

“We had lots of people get involved. Students, faculty, staff, SLA, OHS, just anybody who wanted to be a part of it all,” Garrett said.

The goal of these events and celebrations was to create a sense of community while also educating the campus community. Making sure students feel safe, welcome and at home was a concern carried through all of the planning and celebrations.

“In the grand scheme, the goal was to be welcoming. Hispanic Heritage Month allows for a lot of opportunities to provide students with necessary resources to adjust to a new life,” García said.

Being family-oriented is a large part of most Hispanic cultures so it can be difficult for students who move away from a close-knit environment to life in college. Giving students a family-away-from-home was another major goal shared by those hosting this month’s celebrations.

“A lot of Hispanic students are first [generation] and, even to those who aren’t and are in their second or third year, adjusting to life away from family in a new environment is hard,” Garrett said. “So giving them a place to create a family with students that feel the same way they do is important.”

MSU has a large Hispanic student population, and the major way they reach out to and recognize this is through various campus organizations. Being mainly comprised of students and their involvement in campus life allows them to reach the community on a more sincere level.

“I think that’s what organizations are for, to help the campus reach and influence students,” Barton said. “I definitely think, through MOSAIC, [the university] does a pretty good job of recognizing Hispanic students. They’re a school-wide organization and they do a good job being open for everyone. They do more than help just Hispanic students… they have resources for Black, LGBTQ+, Asian, international and all students.”

The Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations on campus were intended to be inclusive for everybody and extended invitations to students outside of the Hispanic community but were interested in learning more. The month allowed for a time of togetherness and education.

Students adding the spin to the dance after becoming more comfortable with the basics, Sept 22. (Lauren Colpitts)

“[Hispanic Heritage Month] is a time to show the different communities to be celebrated and showcase their differences. It’s a way to see all of the different ways Hispanic heritage can be celebrated by recognizing other countries and their histories,” Barron said.

While this time is meant to highlight and promote Hispanic culture, there is debate about whether it should be confined to a single month. To some Hispanic students, the celebration and recognition of their heritage extends beyond this month.

“To me, Hispanic heritage month isn’t just [in September and October], it’s 365 days,” García said.

García mainly wants to use Hispanic Heritage Month to raise awareness about injustices the Hispanic community faces and promote change. While he recognizes the purpose and significance of the month, he wishes more would be done.

“[Hispanic Heritage Month] is a good idea, I think it’s very generous and a step in the right direction, but I wish we were seeing more activism happening. You know, having actual changes… I want to see true progress mainly… To me, it’s kind of like, you can have the month back. It’s very amazing and generous but I’d rather have justice,” García said.

To close the month, the final event the committee is hosting is the Noche de las Estrellas gala on Friday, October 15 at 6 p.m. at the Sikes Lake Center. Tickets are five dollars and there will be dinner, an awards ceremony and a keynote speaker.

“It’s to highlight Hispanic students, faculty, staff and culture in our community,” Barton said.

Just because the month is coming to a close, that doesn’t mean the celebrations and education have to end. Consistently learning and growing in your culture is an important aspect of keeping it alive in communities.

“Even though Hispanic Heritage Month is coming to a close, don’t stop being and learning who you are,” Garrett said.