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Latino Heritage Month Proves Popular on Campus

The air within the Student Union pulsated with rhythm and sound
last Thursday, the second event of Latino Heritage month, as young
men and women celebrated the theme “Having Our Voices Heard” on a
vibrant night filled with music and poetry. With the support of the
student organization Mujeres Unidas, the event’s popularity is
quickly gaining momentum within the Mills community as students’
enthusiasm and involvement accelerates.

Lisol Velasquez, a sophomore and co-president of the Mujeres
Unidas club, believes the event provides an important and unique
opportunity to students. “These events are a great chance for us to
be able to express our culture and opinions,” she said, “[and] for
Mills women to meet great people from the local community.”

Although Latino Heritage Month was created in 1988, Mills has
honored the tradition for only a few years with limited student
involvement until now. The first celebration was initiated by
Deborah Santana, an associate professor in the Ethnic Studies
Department who obtained funding from an Irvine Grant and planned
the event herself. Student involvement was mostly limited to the
distribution of flyers and information according to Velasquez.

But when Mujeres Unidas became involved in this year’s planning,
the event really took off. Annie Flores, a senior and a Mujeres
member, said that Latino Heritage month events “are now a
collaborative effort between the Mujeres Unidas club and the Ethnic
Studies Department.”

Latino Heritage Month is traditionally a month long celebration
intended to acknowledge and celebrate the culture of
Latino-Americans as well as celebrate the independence of several
Latino nations. For the students of Mills, this is frequently “a
time for Latinos of different cultures to celebrate their
independence and life in the U.S.,” said Valesquez.

The six events held this year have more entertainment to offer
compared to last year, according to Daisy Gonzalez, a sophomore and
co-president of the club. She said that the primary difference from
last year’s festivities is the addition of the live poetry from a
variety of artists, a music session from the San Jose spoken word
and music ensemble as well as a discussion with Latina writers. But
the event that organizers are most looking forward to is the dance
on Oct. 1st, according to Velasquez, which will have a 12-person
band providing plenty of music to dance the night away. “It’ll be
really amazing,” she said. “They’ll make you wanna dance!”

Several of the planned events feature not only Mills women, but
writers, poets, and students from the Bay Area and beyond. In
addition to coordinated community involvement, Velasquez hopes to a
have a high turn-out of both Mills and non-Mills students by
advertising the event at Bay Area colleges.

If the poetry and music event last Thursday is any indication of
the excitement to come, Latino Heritage month participants have
much to look forward to. Enthusiastic students danced to the music
and every musical and literary piece was met with thunderous
applause. Alma Garcia, Library Systems Administrator and advisor to
Mujeres Unidas, was impressed by what she saw. “Once here, the
students were really engaged,” she said.

Many students shared Garcia’s opinion and believe that the
events for Latino Heritage Month are much better this year.
Sophomore Katie Stanford said, “Everyone had a lot of energy and
that really came across.” Sophomore Fiza Asar agreed and added that
the event was “so much better than last year!”

Freshwomen Elina Raos and Maria Calderon were so excited about
Thursday’s event that they skipped their seminar class to come. “I
think it’s a great way to be in the community together,” said
Calderon. “I just wish everything was longer!” Roas said she “loved
the celebration” and said she plans to attend the rest of the month
long festivities. She also is joining Mujeres Unidas.

Members of Mujeres Unidas are very pleased with how things have
turned out. “So far the events have been great,” said Velasquez.
She would like to “continue the spirit” of last week”s event and
said she “can’t wait to share more of our culture with other

Jessica Masceda, club historian, hopes that the enthusiasm will
continue even once the festivities are over. “We’ve had a great
turn-out at the events,” she said. “I hope people continue their
interest with the club and keep bringing ideas forward!”

The next scheduled event is “An Evening with Latina Writers” to
be held tonight at 7 p.m. in the Student Union.