Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month: Honoring Cultural Fellowship

Six Hispanic women in traditional attire are dancing in the Student Center for the Tu Bienvenida event.
Jared Libby

Hispanic Heritage Month is here, and what a fantastic chance it is to participate in the festivities revolving around campus, celebrating a culture with numerous contributions to this country we call home! Representation matters at TMCC, and when we take a moment to recognize the harmony of our diverse student population, we illustrate our commitment to understanding and creating socially sensitive environments where any individual can learn and feel comfortable. The Equity, Inclusion, and Sustainability Office, International Student Services, and the Student Life and Development Office are all teaming up to bring you a memorable month that is inspiring, enlightening, and connects us.

We don't depict our college canvas as being one monochromatic color. We enthusiastically paint it with all the vibrant shades of those who come to our institution to establish a better life for themselves and their families. Higher education has that allure, and we pride ourselves on being the gateway for anyone seeking a rewarding professional career. The singular narratives we hear inspire us, cultivating a melting pot of people looking to give back to their communities, shining examples of academic dedication. Ask yourself how you can support your colleagues and peers from Sept. 15–Oct. 15, diving into a heritage unlike any other!

Strength in Knowing Where You Come From

In 2017, TMCC officially became a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), defining us as an eligible institution with at least 25% Hispanic students. Lucky for us, for Fall 2023, we have the privilege of welcoming 34% Hispanic students, and we also get to experience the rich history and traditions of a civilization that surpasses America by several thousand years.

They can trace their ancestry to Spain, Mexico, and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America, and the Caribbean, brimming with strong familial bonds, extraordinary artistic legacies, fiestas throughout the year, mesmerizing music and dance, and flavorful dishes we have come to treasure. There is nothing quite like the beauty of their spoken or written language, captivating us with imaginative literature that speaks to our hearts and minds while regaling us with their charming resonance of words. Involving yourself directly in their customs is the sole avenue for gaining a newfound admiration, and TMCC is abundant with opportunities and events where you can do just that.

“Being part of a community college that not only identifies as a Hispanic-Serving Institution but also offers opportunities to celebrate our Latinx and Hispanic heritage genuinely is exhilarating,” said Juana Reynoza-Gomez, Program Director of Equity, Inclusion, and Sustainability.

“Seeing this outpouring of appreciation gives us hope for the children in our communities. College may not always be the first decision for graduates right out of high school. We are proving to them that this is a place where they belong and can discover the best version of themselves while not compromising their inherent Latinx and Hispanic identity,” continued Gomez.

Get Educated, Get Involved

You may have noticed this week that multiple extracurricular activities were happening across campus, beginning with Vamos a La Discoteca! This therapeutic gathering requests your attendance for a healthy dose of tango in the DISCO, kicking off the series by enjoying the timeless records of iconic musical artist Selena Quintanilla. Selena’s impact on the Hispanic community through her melodies is astronomical, leading to the genre’s popularity in America. She lost her life at the tender age of 23, but the impression she has made in the lives of those who cherish her voice and know her will be everlasting. Join them on Sept. 22, Sept. 27, and Oct. 11 to honor Hispanic musicians and let it be a reminder that something as pure as a heartfelt song can bring us together in any setting, academic included.

Little girls garbed in huipil dresses dance with each other at Tu Bienvenida.

Little girls garbed in huipil dresses dance with each other at Tu Bienvenida.

The second annual Tu Bienvenida amassed many students, family, and friends for a public showing unlike any other! Young women and children wear traditional attire, Huipils, or dresses colorfully embroidered with exquisite flowers, vines, and greenery. Captivating audiences with their movements, our community looked on in awe as they pressed chilled glasses of Horchata and fluffy, sweet churros to their lips. Students watched from balconies while families cheered on their loved ones taking to the floor.

“This is who we are. These are our values. We want to share them with you! For generations, the customs and traditions we embrace have given us our purpose, and when you have nowhere else to go, lean on everything that makes you a proud Latinx and Hispanic. There is nothing you cannot accomplish in this life,” said Gomez.

TMCC also had the privilege of hosting Claudia Cruz, Dominican-American journalist and University of Nevada, Reno, instructor, who spoke about her ancestry and the significance of Hispanic Americans in higher education. The next generation of leaders will be a bilingual, dynamic team of professionals we must care for and develop as educators and administrators. Preparing them for the future is a responsibility requiring all our efforts. A collective air of goodwill could be felt in the Student Center, reinforcing the lasting unity between TMCC and its beloved Hispanic groups.

Nevada Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar will also be present for an exciting midday event on Sept. 25 from 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. Engaging with our elected officials is an integral part of the democratic process. Aguilar represents the first Latino Secretary of State here in Nevada. Our right to vote is invaluable, and getting to the polls will be one of the topics of Aguilar’s discussion. It will be a great time to network and ask any burning questions you may have for the politician. Representation in northern Nevada government is vital to our state’s prosperity, and Hispanic Heritage Month is the perfect moment to highlight the individuals who adopted this as their mission.

Be sure to check out our Calendar of Events throughout the month to keep up to date with the latest happenings on campus for Hispanic Heritage Month!

Women dance while wearing traditional cowboy clothing during Tu Bienvenida.

Women dance while wearing traditional cowboy clothing during Tu Bienvenida.

What can you do to show your support for Hispanic Heritage Month? Loads of things. Participating in these events is always a good show of faith, but there are subtler, more easygoing ways. Donate to Hispanic nonprofits and community organizations, expressing gratitude for their countless contributions to our society. Assist local Hispanic-owned businesses as a customer. You will find there is no shortage of these fantastic shops across Nevada! Read books written by Hispanic authors and poets and become absorbed with their ability to weave words together while acquiring knowledge of their intimately human experiences. Take a virtual tour of Hispanic museums or breathtaking historical structures like the Museu de Arte de São Paulo or Machu Picchu. Whatever you decide, remember to enlighten yourself with the wonders of a cultural legacy that we at TMCC are beyond happy to celebrate! Trust us, you will be glad you did.

“Our Hispanic history is celebrated thoughtfully at TMCC, and every year, we try to introduce new ways to show our community just how culturally diverse and robust we are. I am optimistic about Hispanic representation at this institution and those young minds studying for permanent success after graduation,” said Gomez.

For more information, please visit the Equity, Inclusion, and Sustainability Office, International Student Services, and Student Life and Development Office websites.