Different but Connected: Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

September 13, 2019

Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, Baylor Media and Public Relations, 254-710-6275
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By Cacey Vigil, student news writer, Baylor Media and Public Relations
WACO, Texas (Sept. 13, 2019) – Embrace our differences but remember how we are connected. That’s the message Baylor University senior Dennise Garza emphasizes when discussing the importance of Hispanic Heritage Month.

In the United States, National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. This celebration of both Hispanic and Latinx culture celebrates not only the groups’ heritage and culture, but it also recognizes the contributions of Hispanic and Latinx Americans to the United States.

“Each generation makes its own culture in the United States and its important to not lose touch of where we come from,” said Garza, a senior sociology major from Pearland and secretary of Baylor’s Hispanic Student Association. “Our goal should be to evolve our cultures, not replace. Hispanic Heritage Month is about connecting with others, making a new image of what it means to be Hispanic. We must embrace both what makes us different but also the things that connect us.”

For many young Hispanic people who have grown up in the United States, they feel a sense of struggle when it comes to their identity. There are cultural expectations from both sides and it can become difficult when there is no one to talk to who can relate to the same struggle, Garza said.
“My parents were always concerned with me fitting in here,” Garza said. “It wasn’t until coming to Baylor, that I started to address my insecurities. I don’t fit the stereotype of a Latina woman.”

However, Garza said Hispanic Heritage Month is about embracing not fitting into that mold and is about coming together as a reminder that there is so much more to being Hispanic. It’s also a perfect time for people who aren’t Hispanic or Latinx to learn about a culture different from their own.

At Baylor, the Hispanic Student Association (HSA) hosts a banquet every year to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. It allows people from both Baylor and Waco to gather, eat and listen to a speaker of a Hispanic background talk about the breakthroughs they’ve had in their given field.

“[The banquet] allows Baylor students to learn and appreciate the amazing things we can do in this world once we have the drive to make a difference, whether in our community or in the world,” said HAS President Adolfo Prieto, a senior supply chain management and management information systems major from Houston.

This year, the banquet will be at 6 p.m. Oct. 4 on the fifth floor of Cashion Academic Building, 1401 S. Fourth St.

“It is an event that encompasses Hispanic culture and gives us a chance to appreciate Hispanic excellence both here on campus and out in the world,” Adolfo said.

“We are so hardworking and have a strong emphasis on family,” Garza said. “We are truly a passionate people, we love deeply. If you welcome us, we welcome you right back. We treat everyone like family.”

Garza also said it is important to understand that Hispanics represent 23 Latin American countries, which counter some common misconceptions of Hispanic culture that all Spanish sounds the same, all Hispanic food is spicy and that all Hispanic people share the same physical characteristics. Because there are so many Latin American countries, it’s hard for everyone to look and sound the same, she said.

Throughout the month, multiple organizations on the Baylor campus host events to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and inform the community about the importance of Hispanic culture. Along with the Hispanic Heritage banquet hosted by HSA, the department of multicultural affairs will host the annual Hispanic Heritage Celebration Luncheon, “Going Forward Without Forgetting,” at noon Thursday, Sept. 19, on the fifth floor of the Cashion Academic Center.

The luncheon will feature Saul Flores, who will speak about how as a North Carolina State University senior, he embarked upon the “Walk” in the summer of 2010, spending three months walking, hitchhiking and sleeping on the ground and in hiding places in 10 countries covering 5,000 miles. Audiences will have the opportunity to relive The Walk of the Immigrants project along with Saul and create a deeper understanding of the struggles, hardships, joy and hope that immigrants experience on their journey.

What is truly beautiful about Hispanic Heritage Month, Garza said, is it not only opens the door for people to connect and learn about each other, but it allows Baylor students to embrace who they are on campus.
“There is no mold for what we look and sound like or how we think. We are constantly bombarded with the doubts of not being ‘Latino/Hispanic enough,’ but there is no such thing as ‘enough,’ we just are. It took me a while to figure it out, but now that I know, I want to share it with the world. There are so many young kids out there that need to know this,” Garza said. “They need to see people that look and sound like them embracing their heritage, especially in higher education. We need to show them that we are pursuing our dreams and are proud of who we are.”


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.