San Jacinto College celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15) at each campus with face-to-face and virtual events and activities for students, faculty, and staff. The theme for this year’s celebrations is “alegría,” or joy.
“Often, when Hispanic people are represented in the media, it has a negative connotation. Instead, we wanted to celebrate the joy of Hispanic heritage,” said Dustin Hixenbaugh, English professor. “The events we organized help students to celebrate the joy in their own cultures and in celebrating the cultures of others.”
Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes the achievements and contributions of Hispanic American champions who have inspired others to succeed. With a Hispanic student population of over 60%, San Jac is designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution, making it even more significant to celebrate.
Hixenbaugh, modern language professor Yesenia Chávez, and accounting/general business professor Merrily Hoffman co-chair the College’s Hispanic Heritage Committee. The committee enters its sixth year in 2023.
“As a committee, we have representation from each campus across many different specialties,” said Hixenbaugh. “We have worked hard this year to develop comprehensive programming for our celebrations to immerse our community in Hispanic heritage and culture.”
This year, the committee received a Student Success Initiative grant to help fund events and essay and art contest prizes for Hispanic Heritage Month. The contests are open to all current students, and winners receive scholarships up to $500.
“We created these contests to highlight students’ creativity and their art as a part of the celebrations,” Chávez said. “This year, we asked students to design a ‘máscara de lucha’ and compose essays about joy.”
Winners of the contest are:
As a Mexico native, Chávez finds a special connection with the celebration.
“I came to the U.S. when I was in high school,” she said. “It wasn’t until I was in college that I learned I was Hispanic. I’d never heard this before. It made me feel like I was a part of something larger. That is why we celebrate.”
One special addition to this year’s events is a traveling art exhibition in cooperation with Humanities Texas and the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin. The exhibition, “Miguel Covarrubias: Caricaturista,” features the work of one of the foremost Mexican artists of the twentieth century. The exhibition is on view at the Central Campus Gallery (C21) through Thursday, Nov. 2.
“We hope that the myriad of events will give Hispanic students a sense of belonging and let them know how welcome they are at San Jac,” Hoffman said. “We also hope it will allow the students to share their culture with their non-Hispanic fellow students. With knowledge comes understanding and respect.”
The Hispanic Heritage Month Committee is hosted cultural dance events, dance lessons, trivia, guest speakers, and a research poster display.