Fotos y Recuerdos, A Look Back at Island University Hispanic Heritage Month

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – This year’s Hispanic Heritage Month at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi touched every corner of the Island campus. With 30+ events in 30 days, Islanders and community members celebrated the vibrant histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

“We are thankful students, faculty, staff, and community members were able to attend so many of our events,” said Andrea Montalvo-Hamid, professional assistant professor of English and Hispanic Heritage Month Committee Chairwoman. “From the Kickoff to the Tejano Justice League Speaker Series, there was something for everyone, and we hope to continue this momentum next fall. We received so much positive Feedback and I hope we will have even more community participation next year.”

During the Kickoff, the Anchor Ballroom was decorated with vivid colors and filled with the aroma of the many savory tastes of South and Central America. Activities included coloring pages of alebrijes, which are mythical folk creatures of Mexico, designing lotería games, and creating paper flowers. Halfway through the event, Sofía Rodriguez, an Islander student majoring in Spanish, gave a keynote speech about her experience navigating her identity as a Mexican who has only lived in the United States for the past 7 years.

“Latino identity has been somewhat confusing for me,” Rodriguez told the audience. “I hadn’t had to check a box until I moved to the U.S. When I saw White-non-Hispanic, I thought… well, I’m Mexican, but am I Latino? Or Hispanic?”

In anticipation of Dr. Hector P. Garcia’s State Holiday, Islanders and community members celebrated the memory and legacy of the prolific civil rights pioneer. Dr. Thomas Kreneck, former director of Special Collections and Archives in the Mary and Jeff Bell Library, gave a detailed talk titled, “Dr. Hector and Me,” where he described his experiences meeting Garcia and curating his papers.

“Dr. Hector put compassion into action. His leadership, tenacity, and bravery were boundless,” shared Kreneck. “He was a beacon of hope for many, and a symbol that life can have great meaning.”

Later in the month, the Performing Arts Center was filled with energy during the Mariachi and Folklórico Showcase. More than 800 people enjoyed the pageantry and beauty of Mariachi de la Isla and the traditional dances of Alcorta’s Compañía de Danza Folklórica.

“Our mariachi students showcased some of their best playing and singing that night,” said Dr. Rai Morales, associate professor of trombone. “The audience was full of excitement. We even had several people showing off their ‘gritos’ during several songs!”

At the Hispanic Heritage Month Health Fair, which was hosted by the College of Nursing and Health Sciences (COHNS) and the Student Nurses Association, Islanders and community members stopped by the Dugan Gym to learn more about common health issues and available resources. Ten Islander student nurses performed blood pressure checks, screened participants for diabetes and hyperlipidemia, and provided healthy life style tips.

“This is a good opportunity for our nursing and health science students to give back to their community,” shared Dr. Petra A. Martinez, CONHS clinical assistant professor. “Diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia are big health issues in our area.” 

Other festivities during Hispanic Heritage Month included film screenings, a game of lotería, discussions with expert Islander faculty members, a colorful alebrije ceramic art session, bilingual literary readings, music conciertos, and fiestas.