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Hispanic Heritage Month Begins with Common Hour Panel Discussion

Posted on 9/29/2021 10:57:47 AM

The September 15 Common Hour kicked off Cabrini’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month with a virtual panel discussion featuring the voices of Hispanic leaders in the University community and surrounding Philadelphia area.

“History and cultural traditions matter because they enrich our humanity,” said Angela N. Campbell, Vice President of Mission, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), and Student Engagement. “As Mother Cabrini said, ‘There is room here for every talent and inclination.’ Every day throughout the year we should be recognizing the contributions, the wisdom, the guidance, and the spirituality of our brothers and sisters who identify as part of the Hispanic or Latinx community.”

Each panelist shared what Hispanic Heritage Month—which runs September 15 through October 15—means to them. They included:

  • David De La Rosa, Graduate Assistant, Cabrini University Diversity Initiatives
  • Sandra Gonzalez-Torres, Director, Articulation and Transfer, Academic and Student Success at the Community College of Philadelphia
  • Nelly Jimenez-Arevalo, Executive Director and CEO of Accion Comunal Latinoamericana de Montgomery County (ACLAMO)
  • Angelica Martinez, Assistant Director, First-Year Experience and Student Transitions at Cabrini
  • Diego Ramirez (ΚΎ18), Laboratory Sales Representative at Mettler-Toledo Int’l Inc.
  • Janessa Rivera, Deputy Director of Concilio and Director of Coaching and Mentoring with Association of Latino Professionals For America (ALPFA)

Ramirez, who graduated from Cabrini as a first-generation college student and now works in the pharmaceutical field, said the celebration of Hispanic heritage means continuing the legacy started by his parents and ancestors, and supporting fellow Latinos.

“My advice would be to grasp your culture, your family story, and let that motivate you to do better,” he said. “Working in pharmaceuticals, I feel like a minority or outcast in this space, but I understand I have a responsibility to carry on that legacy. There’s a chance to have more Hispanics and Latino people in this industry, and it’s about carrying the torch forward with that progression.”

As part of her work with first-year students transitioning to Cabrini, Martinez said she understands that Hispanic students come from many different cultural and family backgrounds—with varying levels of bilingual communication skills that make complex processes like financial aid a challenge. This multicultural understanding helps Martinez and her colleagues create a “home away from home” for these students and the rest of their classmates.

“Because we are such a multicultural, diverse group, we have to remind ourselves of our contributions to this great nation,” she said. “We are always trying to embrace social justice initiatives for all people of color, but sometimes we don’t realize that we are also represented in that group ourselves.”

De La Rosa, who is pursuing a Master of Science in Leadership (MSL) in addition to working in Cabrini’s DEI office, said he suffered with a vision impairment growing up and struggled to find representation as a Puerto Rican man who did not speak Spanish but could read braille. De La Rosa said these experiences informed his understanding of intersectionality, and how Hispanic people’s struggles overlap with the struggles of other groups, such as those with disabilities.

“There is no cookie cutter model,” he said, noting how “belonging” is a key element of DEI efforts in education and beyond. “We’re all different. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are the tools that we use to get to belonging.”

Ramirez said he recognized these efforts to create a more welcoming campus.

“I can see how Cabrini is improving, continuing to accept feedback, and really putting people in place to support minority students,” he said.