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El Centro celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month

Collegian | Willow Roan
Colorado State University students wear their countries’ flags with pride at the National Hispanic Heritage Month launch Sept. 13. Students displayed their cultures, featuring the Mexican and Guatemalan flags to name a few.

As National Hispanic Heritage Month begins, El Centro at Colorado State University will host the first of many events for students. El Centro aims to represent all aspects of Latinx heritage during this month, which spans from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

“Latina identity is complicated,” Associate Vice President for Inclusive Excellence Shannon Archibeque-Engle said. “Like any of these socially constructed identities, they break down if you interrogate them too much, right? So this is a way to show that complexity by being across two months, making sure we’re representing more than one country, one geopolitical space.”


Prior to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, parts of Colorado officially belonged to Mexico. Because Colorado is a state with its own history of Latinx heritage and erasure of Indigenous peoples, representation is that much more essential.

For the staff at El Centro, part of the goal of the event is to expand their representation of Latinx heritage, extending it beyond Mexico and making space for all Latin countries, El Centro Program Coordinator Mayra Orozco said.

Before the kickoff event Sept. 13, the center held a discussion titled, “Pláticas: Student Dialogue Series, What Does Heritage Month Mean To You?” which gave students and faculty the opportunity to express what their identities meant to them.

“I felt very honored to hear everyone’s different reasoning as to why Heritage Month is so important,” Orozco said. “Especially growing up here in Fort Collins, … I feel seen. There’s a sense of togetherness. The representation matters.”

“We can be broader than that,” Archibeque-Engle said. “We are broader than that. We’re not from a single place, and we don’t have a single story. We have a complicated story. That’s what makes it beautiful.”

The event included a stand covered in a variety of flags so that students could find their country’s flag and take photos. They also took the time to recognize the independence days of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Chile, all of which occur between Sept. 15-18.

“It’s exciting to know that this effort is being put out to be more inclusive of everyone to get away from that Mexican-centric standard that we’ve just kind of been accustomed to and been privileged of ourselves,” El Centro Student Success Coordinator Roberto Escamilla said. “I’m incredibly excited and hopeful for us to all be better and stronger together.”

Students were also able to learn bachata — a traditional Dominican dance style — from Bachata Denver, who came up to perform for the kickoff.

El Centro Interim Director Aaron Escobedo Garmon addressed attendees by recognizing the hard work of staff and student leaders.


“They wanted to make sure that we put out what our intentions are for this month,” Escobedo Garmon said. “That includes creating a space that is welcoming outside of a centralized physical space, that is welcoming of all of the diversity and intersectionalities.”

The bachata lessons livened up the Lory Student Center Sutherland Gardens, and even faculty joined in the celebration.

“Join us,” Archibeque-Engle encouraged students. “We have a good time. We laugh. We eat good food. We’re in the community. We have really good conversations and lots of educational opportunities.”

El Centro will be hosting events well into October, including keynote speaker Kim Guerra Sept. 19 and Borderlands Speaker Cleopatra Tatabele Oct. 12.

Reach Ivy Secrest at or on Twitter @IvySecrest.

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Ivy Secrest
Ivy Secrest, Content Managing Editor
Ivy Secrest is The Collegian's content managing editor. Secrest uses she/her/hers pronouns and has worked for The Collegian previously as a reporter and as life and culture director for the 2022-23 academic year. As a senior in the journalism and media communications department, Secrest enjoys reporting on environmental and social issues with a special interest in science communication. She is president of the Science Communication Club and is pursuing a minor in global environmental sustainability with hopes of utilizing her education in her career. Growing up in Denver, Secrest developed a deep love for the outdoors. She could happily spend the rest of her life hiking alpine environments, jumping into lakes, taking photos of the wildflowers and listening to folk music. She's passionate about skiing, hiking, dancing, painting, writing poetry and camping. Secrest's passions spurred her career in journalism, helping her reach out to her community and get involved in topics that students and residents of Fort Collins truly care about. She has taken every opportunity to connect with the communities she has reported in and has written for several of the desks at The Collegian, including news, life and culture, cannabis, arts and entertainment and opinion. She uses her connections with the community to inform both managerial and editorial decisions with hopes that the publication serves as a true reflection of the student body's interests and concerns. Secrest is an advocate of community-centered journalism, believing in the importance of fostering meaningful dialogue between press and community.

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