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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Hispanic culture spotlighted during event

Ian McIntosh/The Collegian Students lined up at the SE ballroom Sept. 15 to get various culturally accurate foods. Dishes like tamales, pupusas and pan dulce were handed out.

SE’s Hispanic Heritage Month kickoff begins with keynote speaker

Jose Romero

The song “Cielito Lindo,” a popular Mexican love ballad, played through SE ballroom’s speakers as SE coordinator of supplemental instructions Maria Delgado prepared to step on stage to share her experience as a Latina immigrant in America during the Hispanic Heritage Month Kickoff Sept. 15.

The event had a table lining the wall, filled with various Hispanic dishes such as pupusas and pan dulce. The smell permeated throughout the room’s tables where students were seated, anticipating the main event, Delgado’s keynote speech.

Her presentation “Hispanic Heritage: Orgullo, Honor, y Lucha” directly translates to pride, honor and struggle, summarizing the main ideas of her speech.

Delgado was born in Los Tanques, a small farm village in the central Mexico state of Zacatecas. She attended elementary, middle school and a year of high school there.

“One of the reasons why my family decided to move to Texas was because I was finishing middle school, and the farm didn’t have a high school,” she said. “In order for me to go to high school, it required either my grandma or my mom to move with me to the city.”

So, she said her mom and dad decided to move instead.

She was 15 years old when she came to the U.S. and said the only thing she knew how to say in English was “hi” and “goodbye.”

After discussing her adolescence, she moved on to talking about her professional background.

She began at Dallas College’s North Lake Campus, where she eventually earned her associate degree.

She went back to Mexico that summer to visit her family. Taking a trip there is important, she said, because it helps her remember her roots. She reflected on her journey to the U.S. and the sacrifices her parents made to move.

“Yes, we had a better life here, but my mom and my dad left most of their family in Los Tanques,” she said. “So, whenever we moved, the emphasis was to go to college, stay in college and graduate.”

She said she couldn’t afford to drop out or only finish halfway because of the sacrifices made to get here to where she was. Fortunately for her, when she returned from her trip, she had received a letter that would help her stay on her path.

“The letter said, ‘To Maria Delgado. Congratulations, you have been accepted’” into North Lake, she said excitedly. “I was like ‘Oh, my goodness.’ It was literally like as if I got a letter from Harvard.”

At the time, she didn’t know there was a difference between four-year and two-year colleges. Even though now she knows North Lake is open to most, the letter was still special to her and will forever be proud of receiving her associate degree.

“You have to be proud of that,” she said. “You have to accept that this is just the beginning.”

She then transferred to UTA where she finished her bachelor’s degree. But Delgado’s degree path didn’t end there.

“I had a mentor, and she said, ‘You need to go for a master’s,’” Delgado said.

She received her master’s in higher education at UNT, but that also wasn’t the end of it. Her mentor pushed her to get a doctorate, which Delgado received in 2017 at UTA.

She now researches the experiences of Latino/Latina students enrolled in community colleges in North Texas. Another topic she’s been researching is the use of the term “Latinx” — pronounced luh-TEE-neks.

“Every year, you’re going to see an increase of Latino students in our community colleges,” she said. “The problem with that is that we have all these Latinos in community colleges, but the current administrators and faculty do not reflect the diversity of the student demographic.”

Attendees listen to the keynote speaker at Abrazando al Exito: Embracing Success, which celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month.
Attendees listen to the keynote speaker.
Photo by Daniel LeNoir/The Collegian

Having Hispanic staff and administrators can enable them to be role models to students that classify as the same ethnicity, she said. It gives them someone to look up to and someone to aspire to be. One of her concerns with faculty that aren’t diverse is that they can’t empathize with cultural problems.

To cap off her speech, she gave the audience some pieces of advice.

“For Latino students, sometimes maybe we might feel that we’re embarrassed by our culture or our background,” she said. “You don’t have to feel embarrassed. You don’t have to change who you are to fit in a certain role.”

At the end of Delgado’s speech, SE government instructor Olivia Agudelo shared her thoughts on the presentation.

“What I really admire of Dr. Delgado is the passion to help students overall,” Agudelo said. “That’s like the first thing that she always tells everyone. ‘Be humble. Help anyone that you can.’”

She said Delgado embodies what she should do, as a Latina or anybody pursuing a degree. Agudelo admires how knowledgeable Delgado is on many topics because when students were asking questions that weren’t in Delgado’s specialty, she still provided resources for them.

Because Agudelo was raised in America, she said her Mexican culture wasn’t entirely ingrained in her, so having Hispanic Heritage Month events like this helps her represent who she is.

One of the event organizers and student development associate Frankie Ward said there are more events planned for Hispanic Heritage Month.

“We have our big event coming up, Abrazando Al Exito,” she said. “That’ll be Oct. 14, and that definitely is one of the biggest events that I would say students need to go to.”

Ward said these events are important because it helps students embrace their culture, and hers as well since she’s a Spaniard.

Abrazando Al Exito will be hosted at the SE Campus ballroom, including scholarship opportunities and a speech from a civil rights leader.

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