The Charger Blog

Criminal Justice Major Reflects on Significance of Hispanic Heritage Month

For Lisbeth Fernandez '20, a Latin American Student Association executive board member, Hispanic Heritage Month – which is celebrated from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 – is a time to share her Latin culture and to come together as a Latinx community.

October 1, 2019

By Lisbeth Fernandez '20

Image of Lisbeth Fernandez '20.
Lisbeth Fernandez '20 serves as executive assistant on the executive board of the Latin American Student Association.

Hispanic Heritage Month is a month-long celebration of the Latinx community – our history, culture, and overall impact. It is also a month for individuals who identify as Latinx to pay homage to their roots and to show our pride in who we are and the culture that we celebrate.

My family is from the Dominican Republic, and I enjoy any opportunity to celebrate my culture and take pride in where I come from. At the University of New Haven, the Myatt Center for Diversity and Inclusion, the Office of Residential Life, and the Latin American Student Association (LASA) have put together a number of wonderful events that will take place throughout Hispanic Heritage Month.

"What I want students to gain from these events is knowledge of the history of our Latinx cultures, as well as the old traditions that may be overlooked ... I want students who identify as Latinx to find a sense of comfort on campus."Lisbeth Fernandez '20

A senior at the University, I serve as executive assistant on the executive board of the Latin American Student Association. Hispanic Heritage Month is one of the most important months in our lineup of events during the academic year.

Throughout the month, we will hold a number of social and educational events. We started off with our LASA Kick-off BBQ, serving food, playing music, and playing lawn games. The BBQ is our annual event, which gives students an opportunity to have fun and get to know each other – specifically, first-year students who may not yet be familiar with the campus community.

Image of the LASA e-board
The LASA executive board is all smiles at the LASA Kick-off BBQ.

Our first discussion event this month was “Influence of the Roots,” in which we spoke about indigenous traditions and cultures within the Latinx community. We discussed how they’ve evolved through time and have influenced who we are today and the traditions we uphold.

Personally, my favorite annual event is our “Why I Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month” table event. We have a dry-erase board, and students – as well as faculty staff – can come by and write why they celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. The answers range from enjoying the food and music, to embracing where they come from, to their own personal identification.

Image of Lisbeth Fernandez '20
Lisbeth Fernandez '20.

We normally end Hispanic Heritage Month with our annual LASA Fiesta, which will be held on Sunday, October 13 at 7 p.m., where we all dress to impress. The executive board gives our member of the month award, we serve food, and we have performances. It’s a great way to end the month with a big celebration.

What I want students to gain from these events is knowledge of the history of our Latinx cultures, as well as the old traditions that may be overlooked. Additionally, I want students who identify as Latinx to find a sense of comfort on campus. At the involvement fair this year, a number of first-year students came to the LASA table, and their faces all lit up seeing that there is an organization that welcomes them and celebrates their culture.

Personally, it was a big transition to go from the environment I grew up where the demographic was primarily Latinx individuals and people of color to the University. Finding LASA, attending these events, and meeting people who I very much related to gave me a sense of comfort and security on campus. As a member of LASA, I have met amazing people who have had a tremendous impact on me.

Being part of the board that puts together events throughout the year – specifically Hispanic Heritage Month – and being able to provide that same sense of “home” for other students is just an amazing feeling.