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Opening Ceremony Launches Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic heritage 1
Left to right: President Stanley, Suffolk County Legislator Monica Martinez and Chief Diversity Officer Lee Bitsoi

Stony Brook University kicked off its 28th annual celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month with an opening ceremony on Wednesday, October 4. The celebration featured the traditional  proclamation from University President Samuel Stanley and the keynote address delivered by  Suffolk County Legislator Monica Martinez.

Events commenced with the flag presentation, as several members of Stony Brook University Athletic Bands led campus community members into the ballroom carrying flags of various Hispanic nations and territories. Guests were welcomed to a mix of songs from popular Latin artists, such as La Sonora Dinamita, Victor Manuelle and Elvis Crespo, and were treated to some traditional Hispanic cuisine, including empanadas and fried plantains. Additional speakers included President Stanley and Stony Brook Chief Diversity Officer LeManuel “Lee” Bitsóí.

El camino desde allá hasta aquí/The journey from there to here
“Hispanic Americans have long played a key role in our country’s proud heritage and the building of our nation,” said President Stanley, who has long championed diversity at Stony Brook and has helped to bring the University’s Hispanic population to record highs, both in number and percentage for the entering 2017 class. “At Stony Brook, our diversity has always been one of our strongest assets. And the Hispanic American community is an essential part of our multi-cultural campus.”

The national observance of Hispanic Heritage Month was initiated in 1968 as National Hispanic Heritage Week. In 1988, the celebration was expanded to 30 days and Stony Brook began celebrating it on campus the following year. The Stony Brook theme for 2017 is “Viviendo en NUESTRA América / Living in OUR America.”

Before the Opening Ceremony, students and staff presented the flags of all Hispanic nations.

“As Hispanics and Latinos, and all ethnicities that are here, it is our job as individuals to teach people who we are. We are the ones who are responsible for the way things are shaped in the places that we live,” said Legislator Martinez, who immigrated to the United States from El Salvador at the age of 3. “We have a month to celebrate our culture and the history of all of our ancestors that have come here and paved the way, but for me it’s a little extra special because I wasn’t born here. I was not born in the United States, but I call this my home.”

Martinez, a Stony Brook alum, represents Suffolk’s 9th District, which includes Brentwood, Central Islip and North Bay Shore. She was first elected in 2013 and reelected in 2015.

Únase a la celebración/Join the celebration
Throughout the month of October, Stony Brook University will honor the positive contributions of Hispanics in America with events that include: lectures, films, educational workshops, art exhibits, multiple celebrations for Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead and the annual closing ceremony on Wednesday, November 1, which features awards and recognition for students, faculty and staff who have made significant contributions to the Hispanic community at Stony Brook.

“A committee of volunteers of University staff, faculty and students across both sides of campus work to bring together all events that honor Latino history and culture in one place to earn the attention of the entire Stony Brook community,” said Dorothy Joy Corbett, Senior Academic Advisor/Counselor with Educational Opportunity Program/Advancement on Individual Merit. “The committee also plans and hosts the two culminating events, the opening ceremony and closing ceremony.”

The ceremony was held during campus lifetime in Ballroom A of the Student Activities Center. Join us throughout the month of October for a series of fun and informative events, listed on the SBU Hispanic Heritage Month website.

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