Latinx Heritage Month kicks off with lively Plaza celebration

Andres+Rodriguez%2C+Julio+Mart%C3%ADnez+and+Viv%C3%ADan+Cortes%2C+performers+from+Studio+Colombia%2C+displays+a+combination+style+of+choreography

Collegian | Ivy Secrest

Andres Rodriguez, Julio Martínez and Vivían Cortes, performers from Studio Colombia, display a combination style of choreography influenced by African, Indigenous and European cultures for the Latinx Heritage Month Kickoff on The Plaza at Colorado State University Sept. 16.

Ivy Secrest, Life and Culture Director

Sept. 15 kicked off Colorado State University’s Latinx Heritage Month celebrations. Hosted by El Centro with other Latinx-based groups on campus as well as RamEvents, this year’s kickoff was the festive in-person celebration students have been craving for two years. 

“We’re trying to throw a little bit of a party out in the Sutherland Gardens,” Director of El Centro Dora S. Frias said. “We hope that folks come out, enjoy it, … (and) let loose in the ways that our community likes to let loose through dance and comunidad.”

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Frias said this was the first year El Centro hired a performer like DJ Von Kiss to perform after the events on CSU’s Plaza.

While the evening was filled with music and dancing, providing a space where students could “let loose,” the morning provided more of a space for student organizations to welcome students into their communities. 

Melany Adame, historian chair and sunshine chair for Lambda Theta Nu Sorority, Inc., said the sorority was invited to participate by El Centro.

“Here at CSU, it is white dominant,” Adame said. “So having this sorority has brought me back to my roots. … You do feel like an outcast here at CSU, but having a group here of everyone with the same values and just how our culture is — I’m really grateful for it.”

“For us, a lot of Heritage Month is honoring our history but also uplifting our visibility and making sure that — you know, being on a predominantly white campus — that folks feel and know our presence here at CSU.” -Dora S. Frias, El Centro director

Lambda Theta Nu aims to “open doors of opportunities” to Latinas in the CSU community, according to their mission statement. 

The Lambdas aren’t the only option for Lantinx students looking to get involved in Lantinx-based Greek organizations, but they are one of the oldest, offering a strong sense of community.

Adame encouraged hesitant students to look into their options. 

“I was one of those students (who) didn’t want to leave, you know,” Adame said. “Just put yourself out there; don’t be afraid. Go out, meet new people (and) sign up for things because you never know.” 

Many other Latinx student organizations came to the event to show students what their interpersonal communities could look like. The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers came to sell goodies and speak with students about their organization. 

“We’re trying to grow our community within the CSU community,” said Joana Saenz Quiroz, social media and recruitment chair for SHPE. 

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SHPE’s mission is to empower “the Hispanic community to realize its fullest potential and to impact the world through STEM awareness, access, support and development,” according to their website. 

Tabling at the Latinx Heritage Month kickoff allowed this organization to reach more students and grow their community. 

“We’re trying to cater to not just engineering majors,” said Araceli Saenz Quiroz, SHPE secretary. “We’re very welcoming to everyone.”

Among the tables of students connecting, Studio Colombia performed a series of Colombian-style dances, teaching the crowd to salsa and pulling in those wanting to dance with them. 

The dancing, chatting and community building turned The Plaza into a vivacious celebration of Latinx culture and excellence. The month gives the community a focused time to celebrate. 

“For us, a lot of Heritage Month is honoring our history but also uplifting our visibility and making sure that — you know, being on a predominantly white campus — that folks feel and know our presence here at CSU,” Frias said. 

Having the Plaza kickoff followed by an event with a DJ made El Centro’s return to fully in-person Latinx Heritage Month events a return to remember. It set the student body up to anticipate the myriad of events to follow, including the chicken mole cooking workshop, salsa nights, keynote speakers and many more. 

Reach Ivy Secrest at life@collegian.com or on Twitter @IvySecrest.