From the confines of a small venue to one of the biggest celebrations of the semester, the Hispanic Heritage Day Celebration has a history on ABAC’s campus. This year will mark the 15th anniversary of the event. When CAMP and HEP first started there was nothing at ABAC for these students. CAMP coordinator Dr. Doris Roundtree said, “We need to do something to showcase the students’ contributions and some of the things that they do so that they can feel appreciated.”

     With the guidance of Roundtree, ABAC held their first Hispanic Heritage Day Celebration. The event was small and took place in front of the steps to the library. The event only consisted of dances and food.

     The event has grown in size as well as other aspects. The Hispanic Heritage Day Celebration is now part of a week-long event called Hispanic Heritage Week. There are keynote speakers, the Parade of Flags, dancers, panelists and food. The speakers are usually Hispanic Americans that have contributed to academia or human rights in some way.

     Multicultural Education Director, Olga Contreras said, “each year we showcase either art, health, science, something that would interest students in an academic area.” The celebration has had many guest speakers in the past including Dr. Norma G. Cuellar, Dr. Miguel Angel, Dr. Israel and Dr. Raymond Moreno where they held a discussion called Improving Rural and Latino Healthcare. The event has also featured a speaker from Washington D.C. a speaker working with ThinkTank, and a speaker with Education Excelencia. They have also had artist Simon Silva give a speech called Breaking Barriers through Education, Pride, and Art. The event has also given ABAC’s art students a place where they can showcase their work to a broader audience.

Ronnie Rodriguez, Associate Director of Engineering at NASA Kennedy Space Center speaks at Hispanic Heritage Day. Photo Credit Alyssa-Marie Behrendt.

     This year Ronnie Rodriguez was the keynote speaker. He is the Associate Director for engineering at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. At 10 a.m. Rodriguez leads a discussion on what NASA has planned for the future. Then at 1 p.m., he shared his personal story and experiences as an immigrant in the United States and the obstacles he had to overcome to be where he is today.

     The Hispanic Heritage Day Celebration has come very far from where it once started. The event is always educational and fun for everyone. Hopefully, it will continue to grow and prosper in the future.

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