USM Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

Published 4:13 pm Wednesday, September 29, 2021

In an effort to create more awareness of Hispanic culture, the Office of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) is sponsoring a series of events as part of Hispanic Heritage Month. The events began earlier this month and will run until Oct. 16.

Akire Rodriguez, a senior biological sciences major, served on the organizing committee for the special program in her role as an Eagle Service Ambassador within the Office of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement. After many conversations with University faculty and staff, she learned that Hispanic Heritage Month had not been recognized annually.

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“I discovered that it has been celebrated in the past but not in recent years with campus-wide events,” said Rodriguez. “Some of the celebrations have stayed within specific student organizations. Our goal is to continue to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month every year from now on and create new traditions here at Southern Miss.”

Remaining events scheduled include:

A bailer (Oct. 10) – A night in which students get the opportunity to learn the basic dance steps to some of the most popular Latin dance styles including salsa, merengue and bachata.

Lunch and Learn (Oct. 13) – An opportunity for students to have an open and safe space to discuss a variety of topics, as well as ask any questions they might have.

Cemetery Cleanup (Oct. 16) – A day to honor El Dia de Los Muertos or Day of the Dead, in which students will have the opportunity to learn about the celebration that takes place November 1-2 each year in Mexico while cleaning up Mississippi City Cemetery in Gulfport, Miss.

The month-long celebration carries special significance for Rodriguez, who spent many of her formative years in Puerto Rico. She was actually born in Florida while her parents were on a Christmas vacation, but lived in Puerto Rico until the age of 10 when her family ultimately settled in Florida.

“This kind of program means quite a lot to me because it’s an opportunity to share my knowledge, culture, and heritage with those around me as well as expand my own,” said Rodriguez. “Furthermore, I believe this type of program is important not only to Hispanic students, but to the University as a whole because we should all have the opportunity to learn, educate and bring awareness to topics that we are not normally exposed to.”

To learn more about Hispanic Heritage Month and other programs offered by the Office of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement, call 601.266.5724 or visit: