By Raleigh Basinger
Youngstown State University held its 10th annual Opening Ceremony for Hispanic Heritage Month on Saturday in the Chestnut Room of Kilcawley Center.
The Hispanic Heritage Planning Committee put this event together through the Youngstown State University Office Student Diversity Program. Campus and community organizations were involved in creating this event.
Ana Torres, a member of the planning committee, helped organize the event.
“It celebrates the contributions of Hispanic immigrants and Latino Americans in our communities and across the U.S.,” Torres said.
William Blake, director of the YSU Student Diversity Program, helped the committee with the event.
“We go to great lengths to include as many elements of the Hispanic and Latino culture from our campus and community,” Blake said. “We do a host of different things throughout the month in terms of celebrating Hispanic heritage on our campus. Our whole focus in the student experience area is to engage our students.”
Student Catherine Cooper spoke about the importance of celebrating Hispanic heritage.
“We help recognize the rich and diverse culture of the Hispanic and Latino community,” Cooper said. “We also recognize accomplishments and the community efforts that our community does to help everyone. That’s why we have the celebration.”
Seth Hannum, a professional and technical writing student, went to the event to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month with people of a different culture.
“Hispanics have been in this land well before Caucasians,” Hannum said. “There are Spanish words in our language. We eat Hispanic food. It’s nice to recognize where some of our own ways come from.”
A variety of music and dance acts were performed at the ceremony to showcase Hispanic culture.
Students from Ursuline High School and Paulina Montaldo, a part-time professor at YSU, performed cultural dances.
“It’s a great celebration and I’m glad YSU is the one that hosts this event,” Montaldo said. “I think it’s pretty important for the Hispanic community in Youngstown. We have people that come from Pittsburgh and Cleveland so it is a big and important event for the community.”
Labra Brothers Band and Miguel Angel Gomez performed at the ceremony.
Rebecca Banks, an American studies student, said that she has attended this event for several years now.
“I look forward to hearing authentic Spanish music. I love to see dancing, and the event always features dances put on by students,” Banks said. “They dance intricate steps while arrayed in colorful vivid clothing.”
The Chestnut Room hosted tables that featured instruments, paintings and crafts to help showcase Hispanic heritage to guests.
Refreshments were available for guests at the ceremony. Attendees could create their own tacos and enjoy Spanish rice, nachos and churros with chocolate sauce.
The Hispanic Heritage Planning Committee is planning events throughout the month, including the OCA Gala and the Cesar Chavez blood drive.