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Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

University celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with Fiesta on the Hilltop

Neyna+Singh+spins+while+dancing+Sinaloa%2C+a+traditional+dance+representing+one+of+the+31+states+of+Mexico.+%0A
Emilio Casanova / Hilltop Views
Neyna Singh spins while dancing Sinaloa, a traditional dance representing one of the 31 states of Mexico.

On the sunny morning of Sept. 21, St. Edward’s celebrated National Hispanic Heritage Month with Fiesta on the Hilltop. Several offices and organizations on campus, such as the College Assistance Migrant Program, the Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion, International Student Services, Ballet Folklórico and Campus Ministry, united to organize the event. Every year, students, faculty and staff get together to highlight the importance and the culture of the Hispanic and Latino communities on campus. 

“We are honoring different traditions, different cultures, different styles, and we wanted to do so in a way that was celebratory,” Lionel Lopez, assistant director of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, said. “What better way to do so than with free food, good music and dance?”

Students learn how to dance cumbia and have fun on the stage.
(Emilio Casanova / Hilltop Views)

Several activities were happening across Ragsdale Lawn, including Grito Contest, trivia, cumbia class and contest, piñatas and a Latinx vendors expo. The Grito tradition comes from the Mexican Revolution, and consists of a long, one breath shout. Cumbia is a traditional genre of music and dance, originated in Colombia but adapted to a mix of styles, creating Mexican cumbia. Hispanic and Latino music played through the entirety of the event and food and refreshments were also served. 

“The best way to build community is to build a home away from home,” Lopez said. “We want students to see people who look like them, see dances that remind them of home, hear people that sound like their family members and friends from home. If we can incorporate that into this event, we are going to make sure we do it as best as we can.”

St. Edward’s is recognized as the best college for Hispanic students and has been a Hispanic-Serving Institution for over 30 years, with at least 25% of the student body being Hispanic. With this, the university seizes the opportunity to highlight the community and give voice to those that share similar experiences, all while celebrating their heritage and presenting it to the rest of the Hilltop community. 

Transfer student Sandra Chapa proudly holds her brand sign at her vendor table at the event. It was her first time promoting her business on campus. (Emilio Casanova / Hilltop Views)

“We just want to celebrate culture all together, so we can bring allies together and so we can bring people who are celebrating their own history,” Melissa Esqueda, associate vice president of the Office of Equity & Employee Relations, said. “We want to celebrate the students that are here today so that they can move their families and their culture forward.”

One of the biggest representations of Hispanic culture is embodied through the student organization Ballet Folklórico. During Fiesta, the group showcased their talents several times, dancing to traditional music with typical clothing. 

“I love that we got to share our community as well as our diverse backgrounds, as well as promote other backgrounds,” Vice President of Ballet Folklórico Luis Rios said. “I’m excited for the future of more representation on campus.”

For students, the most important parts of events like this is seeing themselves be represented, seen and heard, as well as having people that don’t share the same background be excited and interested to learn more about their culture and traditions.. 

“I love it,” CAMP student Jessica Barrera said. “This is part of my culture, so seeing people come together to explore different things that my culture has to offer, I think it’s beautiful.”

President Fuentes dances alongside the members of Ballet Folklórico. (Emilio Casanova / Hilltop Views)

The organizations on campus want to highlight not only the culture and the traditions, but also give voice and a larger platform for young Hispanic and Latino business owners to reach more people and have their hard work be recognized. 

“I feel so honored,” transfer student and vendor Sandra Chapa said. “This is a great opportunity for students like myself to get out there, to meet other people and to promote their businesses and skills, it’s a great support system to have.”

The hilltop kicks off Hispanic Heritage Month with a celebration of diversity, culture and tradition. Students, faculty and staff come together in the name of something greater that unites them and creates a family and a home away from home.

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About the Contributor
Anna Pratts, Sports Editor
Anna Pratts is a sophomore from Brazil and majoring in Writing and Rhetoric with a concentration in journalism and digital media and minoring in Global Studies. This is her second year writing for Hilltop Views and her first semester as Sports Editor. She loves writing about sports, especially soccer and basketball, but she is looking forward to exploring other areas and growing as a writer.

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