Hispanic Heritage Month Activities Draw to a Close

—By Laura Hays on 10/13/2011 The Alma Folkloricá dancers from Guymon High School provided part of the entertainment at OPSU's annual Noche de Gala.—Matthew Crook photo The Alma Folkloricá dancers from Guymon High School provided part of the entertainment at OPSU's annual Noche de Gala.—Matthew Crook photo Goodwell, Okla.—National Hispanic Heritage Month officially comes to an end on Oct. 15, but the memories linger. Events all over the U.S. honor the cultural and historic contributions Hispanic Americans have made and this year's theme, "Many Backgrounds, Many Stories . . . One American Spirit" highlights the diversity among various Hispanic populations while recognizing that they all share the same dream.

Teri Mora, OPSU's Director of Hispanic Student Services, and her students in the Hispanic American Leadership organization (HALO), organized and held several events over the month-long celebration. On Sep. 15 to kick-off the events, the jalapeño eating contest pitted students against each other to see who could finish off 12 of the fiery peppers in the least amount of time. Participants played through the pain with flushed faces and watery eyes, and Lenny Soto claimed the $25 first prize. The same day, students listened to an inspirational speaker Ernest Mejia, a Mexican immigrant who overcame a variety of hardships to educate himself. Hispanic student athletes and coaches were recognized at half-time of the football game against Eastern New Mexico on Sep. 17 and the following day, the OPSU scholarships were given to the FIESTA Queen and King in Guymon. The annual celebration features music, food, dancing and other activities that honor Hispanic culture.

OPSU's annual Noche de Gala concludes the formal Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations at OPSU and was held Sept. 27. HALO students transformed the ballroom with traditional decorations and the event featured a Mexican buffet and Mexican dancing and music. Those providing entertainment included the Alma Folkloricá Dancers and guitarist Levy Hinojosa, all Guymon High Schools students, and OPSU's exchange student from Argentina, Flora Frete. Also, those who generously support the local Hispanic community are honored during Noche de Gala. This year's honorees include community leaders Melyn Johnson, Soila Avalos, and Ricardo Mora as well as HALO newcomer of the year, Marco Valencia and Teri Mora recognized HALO President Bryan Armendariz with a special community leadership award.

OPSU continues in its efforts to increase its number of Hispanic students to more accurately reflect the local population and is currently an associate member in the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU). Upon reaching 25% Hispanic enrollment, OPSU will be an Hispanic Serving Institution in HACU and will be eligible for a variety of extra funding opportunities that will allow continued growth. If you would like more information about OPSU's Hispanic programs, contact Teri Mora at 580.349.1538 or email tmora@opsu.edu.

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