By DUSTIN CLARK, Ranger Reporter:
Celebrating diversity and providing a voice for the voiceless are the goals of Amarillo College’s Hispanic Heritage Month events. During the first two weeks of October, college employees held several events in conjunction with the National Hispanic Heritage Month, which is designed to recognize the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and celebrate their heritage and culture.
“There’s so much more to us – we’re people, we’re educators, we are women, we are men, we have so much to give and when we have an opportunity to highlight those things, we want to do it,” said Ruth DeAnda, an academic adviser who helped organize the series of events.
The celebration began Oct. 11 with a presentation by Mercy Murguia, Potter County Commissioner. Murgia urged students and employees gathered at the Ware Student Commons to speak up for the people who cannot defend themselves. “I think that we should always be advocating for people that don’t have a voice or maybe aren’t a part of the process,” Murgia said. She also noted the importance of AC’s Hispanic Heritage celebration. “I think that it’s certainly a milestone that the college is doing and reflecting it,” she said.
The next week, Hispanic college employees held a panel discussion to talk about their educational and career journeys and answer audience questions. The celebration will wrap up at noon Oct. 13 with a fiesta at the Oeschger Family Mall.
The Hispanic Heritage events were created by “a group of people that want to get together and spread the love,” according to Melodie Graves, an academic adviser and one of the organizers. Graves noted that the employees who created the AC Hispanic Heritage celebration hope to do even more. “Our plans are to create a Special Populations Advisory Committee, made up of Amarillo College employees, because our students are so diverse and we need ways to make sure that they’re represented.”
Graves said Hispanic Heritage Month is just the beginning. “We are going to celebrate diversity all year long. It will surround the major holidays of different cultures. We just want to expose the differences that make us so unique.”