University students discuss importance of Hispanic Heritage Month


Photo courtesy of Charger Bulletin/Erick Cuatzo.

Students from a variety of university organizations stand in united support and recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, West Haven, Sept. 21, 2022.

The University of New Haven’s education surrounding cultural and ethnic diversity spans far beyond the walls of its intimate classrooms. For many students on campus, Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) represents a chance to express their cultural heritage and appreciate the range of diverse ethnicities that populate the whole university.

Chi Upsilon Sigma National Latin Sorority (C.U.S.)., is a multicultural organization on campus that highlights communication and education while uplifting minority racial groups on campus. During Hispanic Heritage Month, the organization continues to encourage students by making others aware of the ways in which we can celebrate Hispanic communities on campus during HHM.

Dayana Solano, a first-year graduate student and alumna member of the Gamma Delta Chapter, said, “In my first year here, I appreciated the time and effort that went into planning these events as well as the creativity in promoting them since they were pre-planned. There were tons of large posters hung up inside residence halls, when printing flyers was the main way to promote at some point.”

She continued to say that “The celebration of HHM at school back then gave me a feeling of inclusion and that I was a part of the Charger community.”

Solano encouraged current student involvement by attending recognized student organization events hosted by multicultural organizations and educating oneself on the significance of the culture and community. She said, “It’s helpful to be knowledgeable and well-rounded in history, how it’s being affected presently, and how we can help shape, or set up, the future for it. A lot of students don’t realize that you don’t need to be of a certain identity or background to be a part of these clubs or attend these events- it’s open to everyone!”

She said, “It’s so encouraging when members of the community come out and show support for an educational event, just as much as they come out for a social event.”

Solano expressed the difficulties faced while attending predominantly white institutions (PWI) growing up and how that lack of representation personally affected her. She said, “While being a student at a [PWI] brought me feelings of uncertainty and fear of potentially losing connection to my culture, the most rewarding aspect of HHM is that I can celebrate it with everyone else who celebrates their culture during this month.”

She said, “The biggest challenge of it is to ensure others are welcomed to celebrate no matter… their background, as long as it’s in a respectful manner. Nonetheless, I’m happy I’m able to share my appreciation and love for cultures including my own with everyone.”

Ayleene Parada, a current alumna of the Gamma Delta Chapter of C.U.S. said one of the major goals the organization has for HHM is to educate the student body on the importance of the celebration, regardless of each other’s cultural or ethnic background.

She said, “The most rewarding aspect of celebrating Hispanic Heritage is being able to represent my culture and educate anyone about where my family is from. My culture is a big part of who I am so getting the opportunity to share it with others not just with information but with food and dance is heartwarming.”