On Wednesday, Sept. 15, Kean P.U.L.S.E, Student Government and the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion came together to host the Hispanic Heritage Month Proclamation Reading and Kickoff in the MSC Patio by the Clocktower from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. during college hour.
As students transitioned from their classes, they were greeted by a gathering crowd in the middle of the patio dancing along to a live mariachi band and having a wonderful time with their peers.
Before the action began, guests were treated to a reading of the Hispanic Heritage Month Proclamation by Associate Vice President of Student Success and Retention Carlos Rodriguez and a visit from current university President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
National Hispanic Heritage Month happens annually from September 15 until October 15 to observe the history and contributions of Americans whose ancestors originate from Mexico, Spain, parts of the Caribbean along with South and Central America.
The annual celebration started off in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under the administration of President Lyndon Johnson and was later expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 as a month-long celebration.
Hispanic Heritage Month was signed into law on August 17, 1988 under Public Law 100-402. Since its inception, the annual month-long celebration has grown considerably with more people worldwide honoring the tradition.
Kean University is one of the most diverse colleges in the state and is a designated Hispanic serving institution with over 3,000 Hispanic students enrolled. Nearly half of the student population are one of the first individuals in their families to attend a university.
"I never would have thought that I'd be here at a Hispanic serving institution where we talk about the needs of our students and how proud we are of them," mentioned Rodriguez.
"Look at this wonderful turnout to kick off our event. It really goes to show when we talk about diversity, we really mean that we're all in on what diversity means here at Kean University," Rodriguez continued.
Carlos went on to talk about his upbringing and how that has influenced him today.
"I remember growing up in a Puerto Rican household in Hudson County, NJ. I was raised with certain values and my parents taught me to work hard and value education. They also told me that the American Dream was within my reach," said Rodriguez. "My parents told me to be proud of your Hispanic heritage and American roots. They said that I could do anything but just remember that you're going to need a lot of support along the way."
The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Kean leads and supports a campus-wide initiative in fostering a community that values and promotes diversity of all its students, faculty and staff. For more information, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion can be found on Cougar Link.