UVU celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

Reading Time: 2 minutes As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, UVU’s Latino Initiative has planned many amazing events to celebrate their culture as well as offer resources to the Latino community.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

UVU is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with a multitude of events spanning from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Spearheaded by the Latino Initiative, this celebration is dedicated to fostering awareness and appreciation for Latino cultures while also providing valuable resources to individuals of Latino descent, empowering them to excel in their academic and professional pursuits. 

As Utah’s largest minority group, Latinos make up 12% of UVU’s student body. According to the Latino Initiative, since the Initiative’s inception in 2007, there has been a remarkable 398% increase to Latino students attending UVU and a 724% increase in the number of graduates. 

Elizabeth Nield, the Program Director of the Latino Initiative, emphasized her commitment to further expanding their community here at UVU. In collaboration with President Tuminez, their goal is to increase Latino enrollment to 15%, a milestone that would grant UVU the status of an Emerging Hispanic-Serving Institution, providing access to additional resources. 

The Latino Initiative envisions itself as a second home for UVU students. As Nield described, “We are trying to start building a community that people get excited about…but also we are trying to provide services in different ways.” Their advocacy plays a crucial role in helping the Latino community find a sense of belonging and peace. 

Jeanelle Carden, a Coordinator with the Latino Initiative, further elaborated, “A lot of times, the students that are coming to us are not familiar with how U.S. universities work or are first-generation students who don’t have support at home to guide them through the university process. And what the Latino Initiative does is provide a hub where students can come for help through their higher ed journey.” 

Hispanic Heritage Month offers the perfect opportunity for the Latino Initiative to realize its goals. They kicked off the month of celebration with the Latino Carnaval that took place on Sept. 9, where they had performances of cultural dances from all around Latin America. They also had a DJ so that attendees could dance. This festive event set the tone for the forthcoming celebrations. 

While these events primarily aim to foster the growth of the Latino community at UVU and provide vital resources for Latinos, Nield emphasized that “everyone is welcome.” Hispanic Heritage Month offers an inclusive opportunity for all to engage with and celebrate the community. 

Their next event is a Latino mental health workshop today on Sept. 19, addressing topics such as healthy relationships, domestic abuse, and the experience of transgender individuals within the Latino community.  

Carden highlighted the purpose of these activities, stating, “We want to provide spaces where students can safely talk about difficult issues that are affecting our communities.” 

A standout event to anticipate is Bachata Fest, an annual celebration featuring dancing and live music. This party will celebrate the Initiative’s 15th anniversary and will host Grupo Extra and DJ Tracy. Not only is this event for the Latino community, but it is also for every minority. All proceeds go toward helping UVU students with scholarships who otherwise wouldn’t have this opportunity through regular means. 

Hispanic Heritage Month will end with a fútbol tournament on Oct. 14. For more information on all the wonderful events that the Latino Initiative will be hosting, be sure to follow them on Instagram @uvulatinoinitiative. To get involved with the Latino Initiative, reach out to them via email at [email protected].