Minority leader gives keynote address for Latino Heritage Month

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The “Nuestra America” Latino Heritage Celebration, organized by the Organization for Latino American Students, continued with a keynote speaker Thursday, following a series of events geared toward bringing together GW Latinos.

The month of events, which continues into mid-October, has included performances, dinners and Thursday’s address by Jose Antonio Tijerino, CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation.

“Take pride in who you are,” Tijerino said. “Be humble and be positive, that’s what will make you stand out.”

Tijerino talked to a nearly empty Dorothy Betts Theater in the Marvin Center. The audience consisted of around 25 people, almost all of whom where members of the media or in a leadership position in OLAS.

When asked how OLAS can reach out to non-Latino and non-minority groups, Tijerino said Latino Heritage Celebration is not solely for those of Latin-American descent.

“When the sun rises, it rises for everyone,” Tijerino said. “Our heritage isn’t just for us.”

Sophomore Sally Nuamah attended the Latino Heritage Celebration last year and was one of the non-OLAS members at Tijerino’s speech.

“(Tijerino) really said some interesting things to keep with you forever,” she said.

OLAS Treasurer Amanda Nazario, a sophomore whose parents immigrated to the United States from Puerto Rico, stressed the importance of this year’s theme.

“Latinos currently comprise the largest minority group in America,” Nazario said. “What we say matters.”

She added, “It’s about taking ownership of this being our country.”

Nazario worked closely with OLAS president Andrea Criollo and the OLAS Executive Board to create the events aimed at promoting Latino heritage.

“We have spent countless hours to plan the events for the celebration,” said Criollo, a senior.

Nazario said only a select group of administrators have expressed their support.

“Personally, there are certain administrators who are supportive and really care,” Nazario said. “I would like it to feel like support was not coming from just certain administrators at GW. It should be something the entire University cares about.”

The Latino Heritage Celebration culminates with “La Fiestasa,” which will feature live salsa music and authentic Latin American cuisine on Saturday, Oct. 18 from 9 p.m. to midnight. The event will be held on the 3rd floor of the Marvin Center and will cost $5.

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