It was orange, festive and fun. That was the feeling as dozens of Marian University students celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month, all decked out in orange as observances began on September 15. “It’s the first day you start recognizing Latino and Hispanic independence,” said Luis Oviedo ’24. “You can call it a huge cultural day and to share that with others of all backgrounds is important.”
At the direction of Marian’s Student Organization of Latino (SOL) president Daniela Ocha ’24 and university president Daniel J. Elsener, pouring the orange dye began the Marian tradition of turning the Franciscan Heritage Fountain bright orange as the festivities started.
Rubicela Perez ’24 said she enjoys the camaraderie. “It’s a way for everyone to unite as we’re all one community, so no one should feel alone.”
It makes me feel like my peers understand who I am and where I come from, and it makes me feel more a part of campus,” Oviedo ’24 added. “I feel like I have friends in the community, and others come out to support us, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Several students of all ethnic backgrounds attended, including African-American student Charles Russell ’25, who agreed celebrations like this are crucial. “I think you need to be around students of other heritages and backgrounds to show support and learn their cultures,” Russell said.
The event was also about eating, as the first 100 students got free tacos. Last year, about 50 students attended; in 2021, only a dozen students attended as each year Marian’s Hispanic Heritage Month festivities grew in popularity.
“Our goal is to transform Marian University into the best option for our Latino students to become transformational leaders through an inclusive, welcoming, and a safe environment that’s rooted in our Catholic Franciscan tradition,” executive director of Latino Leadership Manuela Salazar said. “I believe activities like this helps promote that and it lets others know we are inclusive.”
“At the end of the day, we’re all God’s children and we’re the same, and the quicker we realize that, the quicker we can all live and work together,” Russell ’25 said.
This year’s national Hispanic Month theme is Latinos: Driving Prosperity, Power and Progress in America. To learn more about Marian’s Latino Leadership Initiative, click here.