For the past few years, the Latin American community in Utah Valley has gathered in the Grande Ballroom for an annual celebration with the purpose to honor its members for their various achievements.
The name of the event “Celebracion Latinoamericana” is Spanish for Latin American Celebration.
“This event brings great opportunity for us to really connect with the community and to have the community understand what UVU is all about,” said Ben Reichert, multicultural chair for UVUSA.
This year the event hosted over 900 people including families and friends of the award recipients to community members who support its purpose to curious attendees who simply wanted to have dinner and enjoy the show. At least 100 people were not granted entrance due to the ballroom reaching capacity.
Over 100 students ranging from middle school to college level received awards and scholarships at Celebracion. Other members of the community who are considered highly active in the advancement of multicultural youth received community engagement awards.
Utah Commissioner of Higher Education and former UVU President William A. Sederburg was recognized at Celebracion for his engagement and outreach to the Latino community.
Sederburg instituted the Latino Initiative in the Multicultural Center at UVU because of the vision he had to increase the number of Latinos pursuing a higher education.
Celebracion featured over 15 dances from five local performance groups. “Viva el Folklore,” “Folklore Latino,” “Bailando Con el Corazon,” “Raices de mi Tierra” and “UVU Latino Legacy” showcased dances originated in diverse parts of Latin America such as Mexico, El Salvador, Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia and the Domincan Republic.
Lewis and Reichert both agree that they hope Celebracion continues to grow and educate members of the community of the potential multicultural youth have within them.
“Just to have all the scholarship recipients to be recognized in front of their families, their communities, their peers and our administration means a lot,” said Reichert in regards to being a part of Celebracion.
According to UVU Latino Initiative Program Director Yudi Lewis, the Celebracion planning committee starts working on it a year in advance.
“It takes an army to make something like this happen,” said Lewis, “I’m very thankful for everybody that came out to support the event and also those that contributed.”