UCO kicks off Latinx Heritage Month

Latinx Heritage Month kicked off on Wednesday as the University of Central Oklahoma’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion hosted a Latinx Heritage Month conference on Sept. 15 in the Nigh  Grand Ballroom for local high school students looking to attend UCO after graduation.

Student volunteer Suzeth Gallegos performed at the event. 

“I think the Latinx event is really important because it helps students get acquainted with the campus, and it shows them that there are people that look like them here,” Gallegos, HASA volunteer coordinator, said. “They have a lot of support if they decide to come to UCO.”

UCO’s Hispanic American Student Association played a part in the task force that allowed this event to happen. Gallegos performed the song “Rosas” by Spanish pop band La Oreja De Van Gogh. She performed with friends Rigo Peruch and Gerardo Santillan.

According to UCO’s director ODI, Dene Roseburr-Olotu, they scaled the event down this yeardue to COVID-19. 

Primeros Pasos was first hosted in 2019 and they were unable to have it last year due to COVID-19. In 2019, they had a little over 100 hundred students. This year, they were able to host 60 students. 

Primeros Pasos, which is a student conference for high school students, included financial aid breakout sessions. There was also a student leader panel and multicultural Greek council that prospective students would rotate through.

“We spent a little more time on scholarships and financial aid this year in breakout sessions,” Roseburr-Olotu said. “That was some feedback that we received from the students in 2019 that they are really interested in. They wanted to know how they can make college a reality and how to navigate FAFSA and look for scholarships.”

Gallegos said the kickoff event is an introduction to the rest of the month’s festivities. 

“We basically come to celebrate together, and it’s a celebration of a celebration in itself,” Gallegos said.

According to the UCO website, the use of the word “Latinx” is a student-led effort to shift from the traditionally/nationally used “Hispanic,” to a word that is more inclusive to non-Hispanic students from a Latin American background. Latinx includes individuals from non-Spanish speaking countries and cultures. 

The next event for Latinx is Las Carnalas, Sept. 30 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Other events honoring Latinx heritage will continue through November , including: Las Bellas Artes del Resplandeciente Quetzal, Fiestas de Las Americas, Latinx Leadership Panel and Dia de los Muertos. 

To learn more, visit the UCO official website or HASA and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion social media pages about the upcoming events. 

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