Free tacos, music from DJ Echo and folklorico dancers surrounded students and faculty at Fresno State’s Peace Garden for the first event in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month on Thursday, Sept. 12.
The event started with Dr. Victor Torres, professor of Chino studies, introducing a major institution that is celebrating 50 years at Fresno State, Los Danzantes De Atzlán.
Torres explained the meaning behind celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month by having folklorico dancers perform.
“As you know, folklorico dance has a long standing and social tradition in Chicano movements. In all movements that struggle for social justice,” Torres said. “Folklorico is not just to simply entertain people, but also it strives to motivate and inspire people to not be ashamed of their culture and their roots.”
Dr. Irán Barrera, president of the Latino/a Faculty and Staff Association, continued the event by introducing a variety of speakers to share with students and faculty the true meaning and importance behind having Hispanic Heritage Month on campus.
Dr. Saùl Jiménez-Sandoval, provost and vice president for academic affairs spoke to students on the importance and honor it is to be a first-generation student at Fresno State.
Jiménez-Sandoval encouraged students to reflect on what the idea of education meant to them. Asking: What is going to be your passion for life? How will you contribute back to your community? What values guide your life? Go back to the people who educated you all of these years and think to whom will you dedicate your degree when you graduate?
“I want to tell you one thing. You were always meant to be here. This was your destiny. Your destiny was to be here and be a student at Fresno State, because you belong to this university,” Jiménez-Sandoval said. “You are multilingual, multicultural and represent the future of our world. You represent the 21st century of California, of the nation and of the world.”
He closed by leaving students with what he said were three simple steps to succeed at Fresno State.
One: get to know your faculty and ask questions and become involved in research and where the project takes you.
Two: become involved with clubs, because they will teach you leadership and communication skills.
Three: never ever feel like you are alone, that you are battling this alone, and never feel that you are disenfranchised. And never give in to the thought that you are an imposter.
Several clubs showed their support, such as Fresno State’s Chicano Latin American studies, Fresno State Food Recovery Network, Fresno State Dog Days, Fresno State Student Involvement and Amazon Prime for Students. Each organization offered activities and prizes for students to get involved and learn about the many diverse clubs that are offered on campus.
Fresno State student Bella Leon, a criminology major, discussed why Hispanic Heritage Month was important to her. She said that the event was a great way for students to become educated about the people who have had to overcome hard battles to simply have an education.
“Like Jiménez-Sandoval said today, we belong at this university, and that is an amazing reminder to hear that. As a Latina, I should celebrate,” Leon said.
Hispanic Heritage Month will be celebrated at Fresno State from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15.