Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month at a Predominately White Institution


Sydney SInks

Photo by Sydney Sinks

Hispanic Heritage month is happening now. It started September 15th, and will end on October 15th. Going to a predominantly white institution can make it hard for students of color, in this case, hispanic and latino students, to feel connected to their roots.

Hispanic Heritage month is a great opportunity for all Millikin students, not just Hispanics, to celebrate the culture and history of Hispanic countries. It is also a time to highlight the impact Hispanic immigrants have had on American society. 

Jacqueline Torres, a Junior majoring in nursing at Millikin, talked about what a culture shock it was for her to move here from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Especially coming from a strong latino community, speaking spanish was pretty normal at her high school she said. 

While it’s not the most important thing, language is a strong tie to a person’s culture and identity .Being around people who don’t speak your first language can make a person feel like they’re losing part of themselves. 

“Speaking Spanish is very important to me, especially because I don’t want to lose that. And not that it’s the only thing that makes us Hispanic but it’s our culture. I just want to keep the because I am who I am, because of my parent’s culture,“ said Torres.

Language is an important part of Torres’ identity as a Latin American. This month celebrates the mix of Hispanic American culture but should also appreciate and accept the many different Hispanics living in America, whether that be first generation immigrants, second generation or higher and people from the many different Hispanic countries.

 It is common for second generation or third generation immigrants to feel out of place, not Hispanic enough to be fully considered Hispanic and not American enough. This month celebrates all Hispanics, regardless of their origin and how “strong” their Hispanic lineage may or may not be. 

Torres found LASO, the Latin American Student Organization, her freshman year. She, among other latino students, found that the way she felt welcomed at Millikin as a latina was through LASO. She is now the Public Relations Officer of the organization. 

Organizations such as LASO are safe places for latino students to create a community within the school and maintain a connection with their hispanic roots despite being far from their families and homes. 

Although LASO hosts events primarily for latino students to build a community within the school, it is also open to non-Latinos and other people who simply appreciate the culture.