From Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, National Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of Hispanic and Latiné/Latinx people and cultures. At The University of Tulsa, two student-led organizations — Latin American Student Association (LASA) and Latinx Law Student Association (LLSA) — are collaborating to bring this month to life and to share a glimpse and offer a taste of this diverse community. “Our goal is to promote diversity and cultural awareness between TU and Latin American students,” said the president of LASA, Darian Martínez.
Dedicating an entire month to uplifting Hispanic and Latiné/Latinx voices is something that LLSA president Malia Castillo believes is crucial. “Oftentimes, society overlooked historically marginalized groups’ contributions and gave the credit to someone else. Hispanic Heritage Month gives everyone the opportunity to recognize the countless and outstanding accomplishments,” said Castillo. “Hispanic Heritage Month wasn’t something that was celebrated around me until I came to TU, and it’s helped to educate me on my own heritage and to be proud of who I am.”
“When the institution takes the annual recognition of this month to move this community from the margins to the center of conversation and learning, it begins to expand our understanding of the significant impact of the Hispanic community,” said Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Kelli McLoud-Schingen. “Having the opportunity to learn about the stories and experiences of Latin American heroes and everyday citizens who helped to shape this country challenges our world view and creates more space for everyone at the table.”
Latin American Student Association
Legacy, resilience and influence are just a few of the many qualities of Hispanic heritage that Martínez is eager to acknowledge during Hispanic Heritage Month: “Our organization believes this month is an ideal opportunity for all members of our campus to celebrate, and that’s why it’s important that universities do their part in sharing student, staff and faculty stories, experiences and struggles. A university like TU that celebrates Hispanic heritage creates a safe space that cultivates cultural pride.”
Beyond Hispanic Heritage Month, LASA strives to promote an educational environment where everyone can learn about Latin American traditions, customs and issues all throughout the year. LASA encourages anyone who identifies as Latino/a/x/é to join but welcomes anyone who is interested in learning about Latin American cultures, regardless of their identity.
The following events are open for all students, faculty and staff to attend throughout Hispanic Heritage Month.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Friday
Friday, Sept. 23, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Kendall Whittier Elementary School
Latino Heritage Soccer Night
Sunday, Sept. 25, 7 p.m.
Latin Dance Night
Friday, Oct. 7, 6-8 p.m.
Festival de las Flores
Saturday, Oct. 15, 6-10 p.m.
Commuter Parking Lot
Latinx Law Student Association
Over at the College of Law, LLSA seeks to encourage Hispanic and Latiné/Latinx students to not only go to college but to go to law school as well. “Our community is highly underrepresented on the lawyering side,” noted Castillo. “We make up nearly one-fifth of the U.S. population, but only around 5% of attorneys. At the same time, we’re overrepresented on the client side in some really critical areas.”
LLSA’s main goal is to teach non-Latinx people about the community and connect Hispanic and Latinx students with lawyers and other professionals who come from similar backgrounds. “It’s important to see someone who represents you already doing what you dream of achieving someday. We hope that for undergraduate students who are wanting to pursue law, we can bridge that gap,” said Castillo.
One of the group’s main avenues to achieve this goal is by hosting community service events that connect TU Law students with Latiné/Latinx students in high and elementary schools — along with their parents — to explain career options, the benefits of obtaining higher education and how to get started.
LLSA is an inclusive organization open to anyone eager to learn about Latinx culture. With this in mind, Castillo underscored the important role intersectionality plays for the organization: “The more voices we have, the better.”
LASA and LLSA have more fun and engaging events lined up for the future. Be sure to check out LASA’s social media for more details, as well as their Linktr.ee for more information on how to get involved and stay up to date with their events! Here are some to keep in mind:
- Ofrenda/Altar Making: Celebrate with Living Arts of Tulsa Día de los Muertos festival, a holiday that honors loved ones who have passed away.
- Mock Quinceañera: Take part in this engaging way to mark an important event in a girl’s life – her 15th.
- World Cup Watch Party (Dec. 2): Watch a soccer match between Brazil and Cameroon.
- Café y Chisme: During LASA’s final meeting of the semester before finals, students will get to relax and eat foods that Latin American countries serve during the Christmas season.