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Hispanic Heritage Month Impresses at York College

York College’s celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15) was a joy for students across the spectrum but especially the college’s LatinX students.

By Wensky Marseille, Journalism Student

Amy Ortega, Chief Latina spokesperson, was the student speaker for York’s grand celebration, which took place in the college’s atrium on October 13. Ms. Ortega, expressed her joy in being able to celebrate her culture in such a public way with students and others on campus.

“It's an honor to be able to speak here today, in this Hispanic Heritage event, where I can proudly say I'm Mexican and first-generation college student in my family,” said Ortega, to applause.

State Senator Jessica Ramos, who has Columbian roots, and represents Senate District 13 in Queens, was the keynote speaker. She remarked on the honor she felt by the invitation to speak at York College. She also  shared her background with the audience and told them, I "wanted to be in public service from a very young age,” said Ramos, who founded Siempre Colombia.

Siempre Colombia, is an organization that provides resources and support to Colombians living in New York City (The New York State Senate). Through her work with Siempre Colombia, Ramos, whose parents are Columbian immigrants, says has helped countless Colombian immigrants adjust to life in America while maintaining their cultural identity. In addition to her work with the organization, Ramos has also been credited with helping to pass legislation that benefits Hispanic communities across New York State.

Hispanic Heritage Month commemorates the histories, cultures, and contributions of Americans who, or whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. The recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month began in 1968, when President Lyndon Johnson signed into law a joint resolution of Congress proclaiming National Hispanic Heritage Week and became a month-long celebration as National Hispanic Heritage Month in 1988.

The special 30-day period of special acknowledgements spreads across September and October, is a celebration of the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens who, or whose ancestors, came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, as well as Central and South America. This month provides an opportunity for everyone to learn more about the rich history, customs, and beliefs of Hispanic people.

It is often said that York’s annual celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month is important because it helps the campus community connect with people from different cultures and backgrounds. It also allows [college] communities to see the world from a new perspective and to build bridges of understanding amongst different cultures.

Dr. Berenecea Johnson Eanes, president of York College, was also on hand to congratulate the students, faculty, staff and external community residents in attendance on the special occasion. Although she had a previously-scheduled townhall with new CUNY Executive Vice President Wendy Hensel at the exact same time, President Eanes still made time to greet Senator Ramos and the audience, profusely congratulating. The event ended with college's Office of Student Activities brought in Latin food from the neighborhood to enhance the experience for all in attendance.

York loves diversity because We Are One York.