YSU Celebrates Diversity With Hispanic Heritage Month

Youngstown State University’s 2014 Hispanic Heritage Month celebration will begin on Thursday, Sept. 18 at 12:15 p.m. and last until Friday, Oct. 17 at 11:00 p.m., with an assortment of events throughout the month.

William Blake, director of the YSU Office of Student Diversity Programs, will provide opening remarks during the beginning ceremony on Sept. 18 at the Mahoning County Courthouse. The event will feature a flag ceremony that will represent 22 Spanish speaking countries — as well keynote speaker Miriam Ocasio and student emcee Josiah Banks.

“The opening ceremony is about making sure that other people are aware that we’re celebrating the whole Hispanic Heritage Month,” Blake said. “It is important to celebrate diversity everywhere you are, not just at YSU. Diversity is what makes the world go round. All of the differences that we have help us to be a stronger community.”

Ana Torres, manager of library operations and event co-coordinator, stressed the importance of the event for highlighting diversity.

“It is important to let people know that, even within the Hispanic community, there is a lot of diversity,” Torres said. “People assume we only speak one language, and that’s not the case. The main language is Spanish, but we also have a lot of dialects. We have a huge diversity among Hispanics — racial diversity, diversity of backgrounds and knowledge, religion and everything. It is important, and we try to bring awareness and learn what the different cultures are about.”

Torres will showcase individuals in her “Notable Latinos” display, which will be visible in Maag Library the entire month.

“[Notable Latinos] is a display that I’ve been putting together almost every year,” Torres said. “We try to display materials we have housed in the library of authors, painters and artists that are from a Hispanic background. I also bring some artifacts to display.”

Throughout the month, many events will showcase different people of Hispanic background, such as Dr. Pamela E. Harris, who will be discussing her personal journey in receiving her PhD. The event has been arranged in order to make students aware of the career track opportunities available to them.

The main event, the Hispanic Heritage Celebration, will take place on Saturday, Oct. 4 at 12:00 p.m. in the Chestnut Room of Kilcawley Center. The event will feature music, dancing, cultural displays and refreshments.

Blake said the Hispanic Heritage Planning Committee decided to hold the event on a Saturday in hopes of making it more accessible for students and faculty.

Blake also encourages everybody to go out for the 4th Annual Non-Violence Parade and Rally, which starts at 3 p.m. on Oct. 5, the first day of non-violence week.

“I would have to say I have witnessed several students at YSU who have lost their lives,” Blake said. “[The parade] promotes students trying to engage strategies to be successful in not dealing with violence in our everyday lives.”

The planning committee hopes to continue raising awareness for the Hispanic community and diversity within the Youngstown community.

“I would love to invite the students and faculty on campus to take the time and consider attending at least one of the activities that have been planned on campus and in the community,” Torres said. “I guarantee you there will be something memorable that you will take from many of the activities.”