'Hispanic Heritage Month means connection': Students reflect on month-long celebration

Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the history, culture, traditions and contributions of those whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the islands and nations in the Caribbean and Central and South America.

At Grand Valley, students are honoring their heritage by sharing it with others and putting on events for the community. Latinx students, Jocelyn Medina, Fátima Alonso-Chavez and Emilee Vela spoke about what this month means to them.

Student organizations like Laker Familia, a program specifically designed to introduce students to resources that will support their academic, cultural, and emotional well-being, offer spaces for Latinx students to connect with other students who have shared heritage and experiences. 

That's important because not only do students move away from their families when they go to college, but also they also are immersed into a different culture. Medina, Alonso-Chavez and Vela all spoke about how GVSU’s Hispanic Heritage Celebration gives Latinx students the opportunity to bring their culture to GVSU. 

“Laker Familia helped me from the get-go,” Alonso-Chavez explained of her first-year experience. “They helped me with my culture shock, my anxiety and depression.” 

Students expressed the importance of family in Hispanic culture. Due to this, moving away to go to college can bring about a unique set of challenges for Latinx students. 

“It was a huge change to this new lifestyle,” Alonso-Chavez explained of her transition. 

Said Vela: “Especially being away from Mexican food and celebrations and having that connection as a family. Hispanic heritage month means connection and finding my family here."

Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates and recognizes the achievements and contributions of Latinx people who have inspired others to achieve success (National Hispanic Heritage Month). A large inspiration to many is family. Hear students discuss their families and the positive impact they have had on their futures below. 

This month has been celebrated at GVSU through multiple events that the Office of Multicultural Affairs helped organize in order to share Hispanic culture with the GVSU community.

Authors Rukia Kufakunoga and Dr. William D. Lopez came to campus to speak about topics such as immigration and the complexities of a multicultural upbringing. 

In addition, there will be events in the lobby of Kirkhof from October 29 to November 1 celebrating the holiday Día de los Muertos, a multi-day holiday celebrated in Mexican culture that focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for, remember and celebrate those who have passed away.

Two people pose together outdoors wearing matching black t-shirts that read 'Laker Familia'


Sign up and receive the latest Grand Valley headlines delivered to your email inbox each morning.