A celebration of hispanic heroes and icons
Hunter Lyle – Reporter
Banners and signs, detailing the lives of famous Hispanic figures, lined the top floor of the Adanti Student Center as the Hero’s and Icons Opening Reception began.
As a part of celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month, several groups at Southern came together and creating an event to commemorate the many individuals that helped shape Hispanic culture and history.
“At Southern, we’re a university that celebrates diversity,” said Anna Rivera- Alfaro, advisor to the Organization of Latin American Student. “We don’t want to just say that, we want to show that,” Rivera-Alfaro said.
The event featured historical icons, such as Mexican civil rights activist César Chavez, who helped create the National Farm Workers Association. It also featured icons from pop culture, such as Puerto Rican actress Rita Moreno, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in West Side Story. The event was catered by Soul de Cuba Cafe, a local Cuban restaurant.
The event was put on by a collaboration of three groups, the Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS), Southern’s Multicultural Center, and an organization from the city of New Haven called Arte Inc.
Southern was introduced to this event last year when Arte held it in Hartford, said Rivera- Alfaro. Arte actually owns the banners, but Southern was able to reserve them for this year.
Arte Inc. is a not-profit organization that is, according to their mission statement, “dedicated to developing and promoting Latino art, culture and education.” Arte serves disadvantaged urban families with limited resources, who do not have the access that their suburban peers do.”
“We’ve been involved in the community for a long time, we have served on different boards and committees and whatnot, and the Latino community is very unrepresented in New Haven, in many different areas,” said Co-Founder of Arte Inc., David Grego. “So, we wanted to do something to change that and help Latino youth strive and do a little better.”
During the reception, David Grego and fellow Co-Founder of Arte Inc and Southern Alumni Daniel Diaz presented Rivera- Alfaro with two checks. The first check, worth $750, was awarded to OLAS as a scholarship. The second check, worth $250, was donated as a personal thank you to the OLAS students for performing at a gala.
“On Saturday night, we had a big gala here, a black-tie gala in the ballroom and some of the OLAS students danced,” said Grego, “so as a personal thank you to them, we are donating an additional $250 to the organization.”
Among the attendees, were several students who, like junior, and economics major, Ronald Roman, were in some way involved with the program.
“I came tonight because I am an active member of OLAS and our VP actually mentioned it to me while she was working down at the desk,” said Roman. “I’m always here to support anything for Latin American students and Anna-Luis and Anna [Rivera- Alfaro] throwing anything like this.” For Roman, OLAS is more than just another club on campus.
“[My heritage] is really where I found my base on campus. I didn’t really enjoy college until I found OLAS, our heritage club,” said Roman. “That’s when I really found my whole friends and family here at Southern. So, it’s a number one priority for me.”
Photo Credit: Hunter Lyle