The ethnic studies department is able to honor September as Latino Heritage month with a four week long celebration thanks in part to the Irvine Multicultural grant.
According to administration, Latino Heritage Month’s early appearance in the academic year had not allowed faculty enough time to plan and budget, a month of festivities.
The grant has given the department more time to focus on scheduling and spend less time with fundraising.
Jean Wong, faculty administration assistant and ethnic studies Professor Deborah Santana who head the Latino Heritage Month Committee hope that Latino Heritage will become an event which is welcomed every year at Mills.
Santana sees September as an excellent opportunity to grab people’s attention.
“With this at the beginning of the year, it’s a great way to welcome the Hispanic students who may be feeling alone,” Santana said.
“By promoting such a celebration, Mills is doing its work as an institution of higher learning,” said Lisa McRipley, assistant dean of students and director of student diversity programs. “This is a service and I hope this to be something which helps to keep our wonderful students of color here, and here successfully,” McRipley said.
Wong and Santana have five planned events throughout the month. On Sept. 12 Celia Herrera Rodriquez will give present “Cositas Quebradas,” a presentation of her studio and performance artwork.
On Sept. 19 Roberto Rodriguez will show “Going Back To Where We Came From,” a documentary which traces the roots of the U.S. Latin community.
On Sept. 26 Alejandro Molina and Marisol Morales will give a multimedia presentation of the “Paseo Boricua” community development project in Chicago.
Sophomore Sandra Gonzales said she looks forward to the festivities.
“This celebration is a great idea because it gives Latina students a chance to meet with people of their own heritage,” said Gonzales.
“Its nice to know you don’t have to feel alone, that there is that connection. You don’t see that many Latinas in the classroom. Knowing that there is something you can go to is comforting,” she said.
Being of various different heritages, Freshwoman Serena Chandler understands the importance of Latino Heritage month.
“Having Latino Heritage reminds us how important it is for oppressed people to unite,” Chandler said. ” It’s easy to be ignorant. Hopefully this month will spark a force for us to constantly grow and learn about new cultures.”
“It’s about time for Mills to celebrate this event,” said Junior Raquel Pelican. “We’re in California, and everyone should be getting exposure.”
According to the Office of Institutional Research, in the 2001-2002 school year Latinas constituted 31% of the students of color, and 10% of the undergraduate student body.