Stony Brook University continued its celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month with an October 9 opening ceremony honoring the University’s Latin American and Hispanic communities.
Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated on a national level. But for Stony Brook, this year came with a special theme – the 30th anniversary of the Stony Brook tradition.
To commemorate the striking advances Latino culture has made at Stony Brook, the opening was organized by the 2019 Hispanic Heritage Month Planning Committee and structured around 30 years of Latino excellence at Stony Brook.
“In the midst of what is a very challenging political climate, our strong sense of unity on our campus is more powerful and more important than ever,” Stony Brook’s Interim President Michael Bernstein said.
The ceremony began with a flag procession representing the flags of Latin America and ended with a speech from keynote speaker Christina Vargas, Chief Diversity Officer of Suffolk County Community College and a Stony Brook Alumna.
“This is really emotional for me,” Vargas said. “I’ve been to every celebration. Nearly every single year’s events.”
Vargas, a founding member of the Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration Committee while at Stony Brook, said she’s used her career to push for social justice, multiculturalism, inclusion, and diversity, and urging Latino students to do the same.
“It’s a very good chance for us to show our culture, especially for other students,” said Ashley Melendez, a senior undergraduate student and a member of both the Latin American Student Organization and the Hispanic Heritage Month Planning Committee.