By Savannah Lewis
The Office of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement (OIAME) and the Levin College Dean’s Diversity Council hosted the 5th annual Hispanic Heritage meet and greet on Oct. 7. This event was supposed to be located in the Student Center Glasscock Ballroom but was moved to the Student Center Atrium.
The meet and greet gave students, faculty and staff the opportunity to connect with each other and celebrate Hispanic Heritage. Over 200 students attended the meet and greet, with the attendees being from over 17 different countries.
The event offered music and food for the attendees to enjoy that were committed to the theme of the event. Colleen Wright, coordinator of multicultural engagement and student success initiatives who coordinated the event, stated that the food had to be specially ordered from Cleveland State University’s catering.
“The South of the Border menu is no longer offered by catering,” Wright explained.
This event was created by Roberto Chavez, coordinator of multicultural programs in OIAME, but he recently retired, so Wright took on the responsibility to continue the program. She stated that her goal was to give Latin/Hispanic students opportunity to interact with one another and share their experiences.
Wright worked with students such as Kayla Barillas, student navigator for OIAME to bring this event to life. Barillas helped plan different activities for the event, such as creating the wheel that gave students who attended a chance to win prizes as well as giving the welcome speech at the start of the program. The meet and greet offered a raffle that gave students the opportunity to win different prizes such as a gift card to Viking Outfitters and a gift bag that was filled with different items.
This event was important to Barillas because of her own heritage.
“I was born here in America, in Cleveland, Ohio, but my parents were both originally from El Salvador,” Barillas explained.
Barillas also stated that she was the first person in her family to attend, and soon, will be the first to graduate from college as well.
“My parents came here with a dream to raise their children in a better life, and obviously the hard work is going to pay off,” Barillas said.
According to Wright, Barillas was a key part in making sure the event was a fun and educational program that shared the different cultures in a positive way.
“She was instrumental in making sure we didn’t cross any boundaries,” Wright commented.
“I want to give the hispanic community a place on campus,” Barillas explained. “This is a great opportunity for us to show our diverse population and to celebrate what makes us unique.”