Culture and community: Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month


Maddy Kunkel

Hispanic Heritage Month lasts from September 15 to October 15. Throughout the month, Latino Programs and Service will host several events.

Amanda Emerson, Contributor

Vanessa Tafolla considers herself a proud Latina.

The sophomore said she appreciates the opportunity to celebrate her culture at NKU.  

“I am proud of my culture and where I come from and to be able to come here and celebrate and for that,” Tafolla said. “I’m very grateful because not all universities celebrate Hispanic heritage month, so I feel very appreciated coming here and for them to be able to celebrate my culture.”

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, NKU Latino Programs and Services will host a series of events until Oct. 15.  

“Hey our culture is still here,” freshman Yessenia Canter said.“We need to celebrate it. We need to embrace it and show everyone what it’s like for us.”

The Office of Latino Programs and Services provides many services, including bilingual services to both students and parents, scholarships, internships and cultural social events. The office can also assist Latino students with work and helps them get involved within the Latino community.

Established for 15 years, Latino Programs and Services has grown from 57 students in 2001 to over 416 student members this year.

Leo Calderon, director of Latino Programs and Services, wants to share and celebrate the rich Hispanic heritage and history with students on campus. He wants to make students aware of what the office of Latino programs and services provide to Latino students at NKU.

“We have a real strong community support,” Calderon said.  

Latino Programs and Services has many partnerships throughout the community.

“Without the community support, we wouldn’t be able to provide our students with so many possibilities and resources,” said Leyla Pena, coordinator of Latino Programs and Services.

The office also provides  a mentor program called The Latino Mentor Program (LAMP).

LAMP helps students recognize who they are by being with other students in the program and it helps set academic expectations in a diverse, nurturing environment.

Madison Cyrus, a member of the Latino Mentor Program, thinks the movement aspect of Hispanic Heritage Month is important.

“A lot of people don’t realize how rich Hispanic culture is, and I think it’s important to show people how much it has to offer and how rich and deep of a culture it is,” Cyrus said. Calderon said students who are involved in the community and the LAMP program feel comfortable to solve and overcome issues. He has seen more students succeed in the LAMP program than of those who did not participate.

Cantero said the programs are an important thing for her and her family. “We’re in a community where the Hispanic population is growing every single day, and we seem to be losing our culture every single day.

“So as much as it grows, we are losing it.”

The program will host  events such as social events with keynote speakers.

Marilyn Zayas-Davis, and advocate for public safety and equity for the Latino community, will be on campus at noon Wednesday in the Otto M. Budig Theater.

Other events include  student retreats, Latino recognition dinners, music festivals, career fairs and a Mexican film series that Dr. Caryn Connelly, Chair of the World Languages and Literatures at NKU, helped arrange.  Free food and activities will be included at some of the events to help welcome students into the program.

The Latino programs and services will be celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month with a series of events from Sept 15 to Oct. 15. For more information and a full list of events visit: or call 859-572-6013.