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Saint Mary’s student groups celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

| Thursday, September 23, 2021

National Hispanic Heritage Month began Sept. 15, and student groups at Saint Mary’s are celebrating by planning events to educate others and create a safe environment for students who identify as Hispanic. 

Saint Mary’s Student Diversity Board works to promote inclusivity on campus, focusing on diversity in all forms: race, ethnicity, religion, sexes, genders and more. La Fuerza is a Latin American club that works closely with the Student Diversity Board and shares many of the same goals, according to La Fuerza president Jacquelyn Junco. 

“We dedicate ourselves to empowering and building solidarity among Latinx-identifying people here on campus,” Junco said. “We also try to educate our allies.” 

Courtesy of Jacquelyn Junco
Students pose outside of Le Mans Hall holding flags of various Hispanic countries.

La Fuerza vice president Kassandra Loza said celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month around campus is an important mission of the club and gives Hispanic students an opportunity to teach others about their culture.

“National Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity for us to express our identities and embrace being Latina,” Loza said. “Since we’re at a PWI [predominantly white institution] this is our chance to tell people that we’re here and tell them about our culture.”

Both La Fuerza and the Student Diversity Board planned events for this month to both unify and educate students. La Fuerza hosted its Hispanic Heritage Month kickoff event on Sept. 15 with over 50 students in attendance, including members of the Student Diversity Board, according to Loza. 

“The goal was to celebrate people from all different Latin American countries, not just Mexico. Many people forget how many various countries Latinx people can be from, and that’s one thing we focused on at this event,” Loza said. 

The Student Diversity Board has a similar goal, vice president Elizabeth Mendez said. Throughout the month, the group is tabling to highlight five different countries from Latin America each week. The group provides snacks from one of the countries and more information about each of them. 

Mendez said the board is also planning a Q&A for international students to hear about their experiences within the tri-campus community. La Fuerza will be hosting a speaker series beginning Wednesday featuring a local alumna and members of Saint Mary’s faculty presenting their research on Hispanic culture. 

Mendez also said the board will soon host a Hispanic Heritage Month celebration event to celebrate the impact Hispanic people have had around the world.

“We want to recognize the contributions that Latinx people have made to the world,” Mendez said. “We want to celebrate diversity among the Hispanic community by including foods from different countries, music from different countries and more.” 

Both La Fuerza and the Student Diversity Board welcome students of all different backgrounds to get involved, either by joining their team or by attending their events.

“We encourage all types of students to join our groups. It’s important to educate everyone and build solidarity amongst various groups, especially during Hispanic Heritage Month,” Junco said. 

Mendez shared a similar message promoting inclusiveness and diversity within the Student Diversity Board.

“We always want students at other schools in the tri-campus community to join our efforts too,” Mendez said. “We aren’t going to exclude anyone and we want to allow our mission to impact as many people as possible.”

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About Veronica Navarro

Veronica Navarro is a junior at Notre Dame from South Bend, IN currently serving as The Observer's Social Media Editor. Navarro is also a member of the Notre Dame Mock Trial team and a resident of Flaherty Hall.

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