By: Andrew Mees, Director of College and Athletics Communications Communications@bloomfield.edu
Bloomfield College students and staff commemorated the ending of a special cultural experience Nov. 14, as the institution’s Center for Student Leadership and Engagement (CSLE) held its annual Hispanic Heritage Month Closing Ceremony in the College’s Student Center.
Celebrating the various Hispanic cultures that decorate Bloomfield’s diverse student body, the day’s events included musical dance performances and traditional cuisines. The program also offered inspirational remarks from guest speaker Melissa Espana-Rodriguez, a Vice Principal at the Tyson Performing and Fine Arts School in East Orange, N.J.
The highlight of the afternoon came at the end of the day’s events, however, as two students received the Hispanic Student Leadership Award, given to Hispanic students who are making an immeasurable impact in their communities. Jeanette Velez and Stephanie Cruz (pictured) received the accolade, with Johnny Vega, Melina Reyes, Stephanie Stephans, Perla Peralta, Cecilia Olivera and Vianey Bentacourt receiving Honorable Mention honors.
“We had so many deserving students for this award, it was so difficult to only pick two,” Coordinator for Service Learning and Diversity Initiatives Nereida Montijo said. “Each of them are true leaders on campus and in their community, and we are so proud of them, as well as all of our students who participated in this month-long event.”
Part of a month-long initiative sponsored by numerous campus organizations including the Center for Career Development, the Educational Opportunity Fund, Residential Education and Housing (REH) and various fraternities and sororities, the Closing Ceremony capped four weeks of initiatives designed to raise awareness and promote signature historical figures, events and cultures.
Other programs included Mundo Latino, where students hosted tables filled with various cultural activities, games and historical facts pertaining to the Latino culture, and a Latino Male Empowerment Workshop, designed to provide career advice to interested students.
“As the Hispanic Heritage Month Chair, I am extremely proud of the student committee members and all of the students and staff who participated in our events this past month,” Montijo said. “Students did an amazing job with implementing various educational and engaging activities that exemplified the true meaning of Hispanic culture; it went beyond food and music and covered history, leaders, traditions and values. The campus community was educated and Latino students had a venue to express their cultural pride. We can’t wait for another great month of events in 2014.”