Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month at Mercy College


Hispanic Heritage Month is the time of year that Hispanics celebrate their diverse cultures and the history of their American Latino community. During the 30 day Hispanic Heritage Month, many Hispanic countries celebrate the anniversary of their country’s independence. But there is a specific day that all Hispanics look forward to during the celebration month.

Columbus Day, or also known as “Dia de la Raza.” which is celebrated on Oct. 12. “Dia de la Raza” is celebrated for the actions and influences many have shown us, including Christopher Columbus. The European culture with their indigenous cultures, misunderstandings, and battles have increased through the multi-ethnic society, Dia de la Raza.”

On this day, many Hispanics celebrate their family and culture. A student at Mercy College believes celebrating her family’s struggles are important. All parents have done their best to push through in life and give everything for their children.

“I celebrate my parent’s struggles, and to them it was all worth it. Because of them, I am getting the education I need and learned the value of being a Hispanic,” says Estefania Garcia, ALAS President of Mercy College.

Hispanic Heritage month is a cherished month of celebrating how far Hispanics have accomplished in the past years. Proud Hispanics love to share their culture with others and have broken barriers as our voices helped grow as a community.

“We are breaking barriers. Being Hispanic gives us a motive to work harder. Let’s celebrate of how far we progressed as a community. As one big Southern American family.” Says Estefania Garcia.

Hispanics are breaking barriers and conquering the world little by little with their hard work and dedication. Living the U.S, is difficult. The lifestyle differs from in foreign countries. The language, adjusting to the environment, the people, the jobs, and education are the challenges Hispanics face. But they are not afraid of it, they do their best to keep pushing forward. Sacrifices have been made and they need to be worth it.

“We can create our own history and make our families proud. We acknowledge their struggles and celebrate them. We represent our culture proudly and we can share our traditions,” says Garcia.

Not only does she value her parents, but she also values her nationality. A status that makes her part of a nation and a family.

“Being Latina means diversity, individuality, and inclusion. You are part of this community that allows you to be different and to share your common interests. We bond in a special way that others can relate to.” Says Garcia.

She is a proud Colombian who cherishes her culture, values, and traditions. Her studies are very important to her and her role as President of the ALAS club. It is difficult to balance both a student role and a leadership role.

Garcia has a hectic schedule balancing work, being a resident’s assistant, schoolwork and being president of ALAS. “ It is not easy but I managed to do my best in everything I do.”

ALAS, which stands for the Association for Latin American Students, is a place where students come together to learn other cultures, foods and traditions. ALAS enjoys planning events where students can be exposed to tasting Spanish food and typical Spanish soda or juice. ALAS, like other clubs, always have their doors open for any student who is interested in becoming a part of a “family” as they call it.

Different clubs have their own distinct meanings. Exposing students with the knowledge of their culture is important, as she says we can define there culture as “identity.”

The ALAS event “Latin Heat” Salsa and Bachata brought students together to learn the basic steps of the Spanish dances.  This occurred on Sept. 26 at the Hudson Hall Lounge. A professional dancer from the Bronx dance studio taught the basics of salsa and bachata. Many residents came to the event and enjoyed quality time with others. The class was filled with laughter and shocking impressions. Many believed it was hard at first but after a while they could master them.

“So many students came out to this event. I enjoyed learning the basic steps of salsa from a professional. In my household salsa is danced differently. It was funny but nice seeing others learn for the first time our dances,” says Krystal Hued, a senior.

ALAS had a successful event last week, and the students were asking for more. It fills their calendar with other upcoming events for Hispanic Heritage month. ALAS will be having a “Tipico night,” which is a Hispanic dance party and snacks will be provided. As well as collaborating with an RA I Founders Hall with a night of learning how to make “empanadas.” Learning how to make Spanish food is interesting and very tasteful.

Mercy College also has a diversity dance team, with their mission is to bring many backgrounds together and mixed their dance routines with different music.

The president of diversity Kaitlin Cruz is from “La Isla del Encanto” in Puerto Rico. She loves her beautiful country and culture. Her role model is Celia Cruz, a Cuban singer popular in the 1990s.

“She is a fearless Latina who came out with extravagant outfits and wigs. She loved to dance and sing. We love to do that. She was an incredible Latina women.”

Hispanics have a rich culture, their language is cultures are unique. The way certain words are pronounced and the traditions.

Felipe Henao is the Executive Director of Student Life, Health and Wellness at Mercy College is another proud Hispanic. He cherishes his family, especially two important women in his life.

“The strongest values of being part of the Latinx community is the family and a strong work ethic. I come from a large, close-knit Colombian family who taught me family always comes first. My family came to this country to provide a better life for us. My family, in particular, my grandmother and mother, have been quintessential role models as I saw how hard they worked to provide for our family.”

This month brings happiness, support and reflection to the Latino community as they celebrate teaching others about their roots.

“Hispanic Heritage month is an opportunity to reflect the diverse cultural contributions that Hispanics and Latinx have made to our country,” says Henao. “Latinos are a growing population who contribute to the workforce, culture & arts, education, and other fields. I am proud to be a first generation, Latino.”