A proud Hispanic-Serving Institution, Montclair State University ushered in a monthlong celebration of Hispanic Heritage/Latin Pride with students, faculty, staff and honored guests gathering for a processional march across campus and a flag raising ceremony. While the pride was on full display for the festivities, the sentiment is not limited to the official day, week or month. It’s an ongoing part of campus culture, reflecting the fact that upwards of one in four students and 30 percent of this year’s incoming freshmen identify as Hispanic.
“September 16, 2019, marks the beginning of the National Hispanic-Serving Institutions Week, which is observed during the National Hispanic Heritage month [September 15 – October 15],” said Montclair State’s Assistant Vice President for Hispanic Serving Initiatives Katia Paz Goldfarb, who was recently named a fellow for the inaugural Presidential Leadership Academy, La Academia de Liderazgo. “This gives us an opportunity to celebrate the impact, el impacto, the achievements, los logros, and reflect on where we came from and where we are going, de donde vinimos y a donde vamos. For Montclair State University, it is a moment of pride. Being a Hispanic-Serving Institution emphasizes our commitment to provide the best education in the most supportive environment for all our Hispanic students, families and communities.”
The University’s commitment to student success extends beyond college, and also encompasses both the before and after years. For current students, there is a strong focus on internships that ultimately lead to post-graduation career opportunities. In honor of National Hispanic-Serving Institutions Week, on September 19, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) Assistant Vice President Reynaldo Decerega will be on campus to speak to students about the organization’s National Internship Program. Decerega will meet with students and encourage them to apply for federal and corporate internships in Washington, D.C., and around the nation.
The University’s Hispanic-serving focus also helps create a pipeline to higher education for high school students throughout the country.
Each summer, the University hosts a Hispanic Student College Institute, a three-day college prep program that brings hundreds of students to the campus. The program helps familiarize students – many of whom are the first in their families to go to college – with everything from dorm life to financial aid to college applications and more.
“This program provided the opportunity for people of color to speak about their dreams and goals without criticism,” said Montclair State freshman Janvion Saunders, who attended the 2019 Hispanic Student College Institute. “Seeing so many people of color all in one place laughing, learning and networking, I am truly grateful to have the experience to meet people that have similar aspirations as me.”
Other Hispanic students have benefited from the University’s Educational Opportunity Fund, which “provides access for motivated state residents from underrepresented populations/areas that meet the income criteria and exhibit the potential for high achievement.”
Montclair State’s role in nurturing and promoting its Hispanic students was highlighted in an NPR feature this past May. The story quoted Alondra Martinez who spoke at a graduation ceremony for students in the Educational Opportunity Fund program:
“Being a first-generation college student means breaking every barrier, silencing every negative voice and pushing myself to be the woman I know I am meant to be,” she said.
Then she turned to her parents. “Mamá, papá, lo logramos,” she said. Mom, dad, we made it.
For a list of on-campus events celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, visit the Latin American Student Organization’s Instagram @LASO1970.