Latino Heritage Month kicks off at Eastern with free tacos, engagement

Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 marks month to celebrate Latinx individuals

Hannah Shillo, Associate News Editor

Latino Heritage Month kicked off at Eastern Monday afternoon in the Library Quad with a celebration of the Americas.

Nayeli Vazaquez
A student waits for her fruit cup during the Latino Heritage Month Kick Off event at the Library Quad. The first 180 students got free tacos at the Don Sol Mexican Grill food truck.

Students had the opportunity to purchase sides to eat with the tacos they received at the event.

The sides available for purchase were sold by some of the registered student organizations on campus as fundraisers.

Kenia Gonzalez, chair for the Latino Heritage Month Committee and admissions counselor, said having the organizations there gave them the opportunity to fundraise.

“Those funds can be used at their leisure,” Gonzalez said. “There are talks about using those funds toward a scholarship for a Latino student or a DACA dreamer student, which is really good and can benefit all of our students.”

Daniela Munoz, sophomore fashion merchandising and design major, attended the event to support her fraternity, Alpha Psi Lambda, which had its own table selling cups Mexican street corn known as elote.

“We’re doing really good; we’ve already ran out once and have had to make more,” Munoz said.

Along with the elote, there was also Costa Rican gallo pinto (beans and rice), and the Latin American Student Organization sold fruta en vaso (fruit cups).

Gonzalez, who has planned the kick-off events for Latino Heritage Month at Eastern for two years now, prior to being involved when she attended Eastern as a student, said the turnout for the event was better than she expected.

“I think we had a good turnout,” Gonzalez said. “My goal this year was to really target the students and make sure they were aware of the celebration and that they could take advantage of all the food.”

Munoz said she was happy there were so many students who attended the kick-off event.

“We do have diversity of course with international students and everything,” Munoz said. “Being able to see this month-long (celebration) makes me really happy and proud because we’re able to spread the culture in many different ways … it’s really cool to see people coming out and supporting us and being able to see what we’re all about.”

Another goal Gonzalez said she had for this event, and for the whole month altogether, was to provide more social events in conjunction with the educational ones.

“You have educational workshops that you should include regardless, but I think students don’t really like educational workshops, and that’s not wrong or uncommon,” she said. “It’s hard sometimes. You have a great event in your adult perspective, but students aren’t very attracted to that, so this year I really wanted to have educational (events), but something that students wanted and something that they really benefitted from.”

One workshop Gonzalez said she thinks will be both beneficial for students and unique is a financial aid workshop tailored to students who need a little more information about financial aid.

This workshop is important for students, especially the first-generation students who have filled out the free application for federal student aid, Gonzalez said.

She said: “I know the (financial aid) office is very welcoming and offers different workshops, but I think the thing that is going to make our event unique is that we’re actually going and asking students, ‘What are the things you know? What don’t you know?’ because we can tell them the general stuff but there are the little things like withdrawing from a class instead of taking an F, or if you don’t pay during a certain time then you’re put on a hold and can’t register for classes. There’s all the little hidden things that they don’t know and that’s what I really want to give to the students for them to know and be useful.”

The next Latino Heritage Month event will be Latino Trivia on Tuesday in the Newman Catholic Center at 8 p.m.

Hannah Shillo can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].