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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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About the Contributor
Ivy Secrest, Life & Culture Director
Ivy Secrest is the first director of The Collegian's new life and culture section. This section aims to cover cultural events on campus and give readers a deeper look into life and culture-related issues. Secrest is a Colorado local from Denver and came to Colorado State University in 2020 during the height of the pandemic. She is a third-year journalism and media communication major with a global environmental sustainability minor who has a special interest in science communication. This year, she hopes to utilize these interests as she helps to develop the life and culture desk. She has been writing with The Collegian since her first year as an arts and culture reporter. She could not be more grateful for the opportunities these past few years have provided her. Especially in regard to connecting to the community and giving her a real sense of what the world of news entails, the experience has been irreplaceable. Secrest has a deep passion for conversing with the community and aiming to accurately and fully tell their stories. Other than reporting and editing, her passions include skiing, hiking, dancing, painting, writing poetry and camping. She is also active in CSU's Outdoor Club, Dead Poets Society and Science Communication Club.

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