Hispanic Heritage Month Events Continue

There’s more to do today through Oct. 16.

By Barbara Melendez

USF News

TAMPA, Fla. (Oct. 14, 2013) – Hispanic Heritage Month at USF has covered a lot of territory with its special emphasis on Latino culture and recognition for outstanding contributions – and continues through Oct. 16.

The concluding event is a three-day forum devoted to the life and work of Maria Zambrano, the Spanish writer and philosopher. Initiated by the Fundación María Zambrano in Spain, the 3rd International Forum is being presented in the United State for the first time. It was designed to highlight key moments in Zambrano’s life (1904 – 1991). Known for her fierce opposition to Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, Zambrano was forced to live in exile in both Europe and Latin America. It begins today. For more information and the full schedule, click here.

A special Café con Leche Networking will be held tomorrow, Oct. 15 providing a warm USF welcome to Latino students throughout the university.

Rewarding celebrations

The USF College of Education held its ninth annual OLÉ Awards ceremony Oct. 10. The dinner was attended by nominees and their families as well as USF faculty and staff. The award was accompanied by a scholarship to further the recipients’ studies.

OLÉ is the result of collaboration between the dean of the COEDU and the USF Diversity Committee.

“At the time and still today, promoting student success has been a priority,” said Professor Barbara Cruz, the event co-chair. “This event not only enabled our college to contribute to Hispanic Heritage’s celebration but recognized our exceptional students and brought their families to campus to honor their accomplishments. It was a lovely, life-affirming event and I am so very glad to have such wonderful, caring colleagues.”

“One of my colleagues remembers that on one occasion, as a result of being honored as a student, a daughter who is a member of a migrant family, received a full scholarship through connections paved at the dinner celebration,” she said.

Her colleague, Vonzell Agosto, from the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies, who serves as co-chair, added, “At a time when the national discourse is emphasizing preparing students for college and career readiness, the OLE Awards can remind the public that students, once they enter college, in terms of research, teaching and service to communities, speaks to a much large vision for education.”

Another participant and supporter has seen the program grow and reinforce its value since 2005.

“The event had worked well in terms of social capital aspects of celebrating student success with families and some modest support from donors. As mentioned above, it also exposed our students to potential scholarship opportunities,” said College of Education Professor and Community/Mental Health Program Coordinator Carlos Zalaquett.

“Over the years, I believe the quality of the program has been enhanced with respect to multi-media contributions and interest among partners. In absence of program, COEDU would not have a presence in activities associated with Hispanic Heritage Month.”

Those selected go on to achieve further.

“At least two students who were nominated recently are now in administrative positions in school districts,” said Agosto. “Latino and Latina administrators have an important role to play in the educational status of Latino and Latina students by leading to reduce the gaps in learning, push-out rates or home-school relations.”

The criteria for the awards in the categories of undergraduate, master or education specialist and doctoral students encompass academic excellence as well as outstanding research and service contributions.

Cruz said, “We look for membership in student and professional organizations, volunteer activities, relevant work and service learning and work with faculty on research projects or on independent research projects – at increasing levels of sophistication. Nominations come from the faculty, mostly faculty in the College of Education who know the work of the nominees and work with them closely. Criteria for the awards are circulated widely and faculty are encouraged to nominate worthy candidates.”

Assistant Professor Soria Colomer, the Department of Seconday Educaiton Foreign Language Education/ESOL Faculty, explained some of the key components. “Reciprocity. Although awardees have certain innate skills that merit recognition, students who acknowledge ‘la comunidad’ and ‘la familia’ who supported their success by giving back to the community stand out. That's to say, it's not only ‘la lucha,’ but ‘la oblicación.’ Although the number of Latinas and Latinos in post-secondary education continues to grow, the numbers are relatively low, thus, we need to nurture the pipleline – especially in a state with so many Spanish-dominant English learners. To do so, we must support students who advocate for the Latina/Latino community in general and the next generation specifically.”

Agosto would like to see more students nominated, “with so many students of Latino descent in the College of Education, we still receive fewer nominations than expected.”

Successful from the start

The Status of Latinos Committee provided the kickoff celebration Oct. 1. Hosted by Mariam Manzur, an instructor in the Department of World Languages and graduate student Omar Rodriguez, Latin American Student Association the event featured keynote speaker Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Myriam Irizarry.

During the celebration the SOL Faculty Award was given to Department of World Languages Professor Pablo Brescia, School of Social Work Associate Professor Iraida Carrion and Department of Anthropology Assistant Professor Angela Stuesse, and presented by Zalaquett and ENLACE Coordinator Yara Castillo-Gutierrez.

The Hispanic Pathways Awards were presented by USF Latin Community Advisory Committee members Maritza Rovira-Forino and USF Emeritus Professor William Scheuerle for outstanding research and outreach efforts. Carrion received this award as well in the faculty category along with Assistant Professor Ylce Irizarry, student Leslie Rodriguez and staff member Patrick Doone, director of the USF College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP).

The entertainment on the program featured performances by the Latin Dance Club, Isabella Arroyo-Acevedo from the Boricua Student Association and Ivan Calderon from the Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc. as well as members of the Lambda Theta Phi Fraternity and Sorority.

An evening of food, music and culture provided a lot of fun and socializing Oct. 8 in the Marshall Student Center Ballroom during Multicultural Latino Night.

For more information, please contact the Department of Student Affairs, the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563