Fullerton’s Arboretum filled it’s botanical garden with people of different ethnic backgrounds for Cal State Fulleron’s President Mildred Garcia’s reception that kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month.
The two-hour evening event hosted keynote speaker Denice Frohman, a poet, lyricist, educator and winner of the 2013 Women of the World Poetry Slam.
Her topic for the reception was “We Are The Work We Have To Do” and subjects in focus included what it means to be [email protected] or Latinx, how to continue the work of social justice and to remember that we remain at the center of change.
Froham’s opening poem resonated to a multicultural crowd as she expressed her emotions on stage about growing up Latina and queer on the East Coast.
“It was like being with familia. It felt like a big party for us to celebrate and be with each other and commune and connect and to know that we matter,” Froham said. “Somos juntos siempre,” which translates to “we are always together.”
The Chicana and Chicano Resource Center (CRC) assisted Garcia in choosing the keynote speaker by suggesting someone who thinks about multiple identities, according to Denice Velez, coordinator of the CRC.
“I’m really proud because the students were really thinking about what resonates to them and what might resonate for other students as well,” Velez said. “It’s something we are putting in a part of a conversation.”
Lauren Flores, CSUF alumna, attended the university for five years and said that not only was it her first time at the arboretum, but it was also “really my first time being at an event where I am openly celebrating with people I can connect with.”
The event also included opening remarks from the Diversity Initiatives and Resource Centers and a welcome from Garcia. The Ballet Folklorico de CSUF also performed a traditional dance from Mexico and Destiny Caro gave his rendition of growing up Latinx with his “abuela,” or grandmother.
Before the reception’s closing remarks, the Latino Business Student Association was also given an award of recognition from the Chicano/Latino Faculty and Staff Association for its dedication to building professional careers in and outside of the Latino community.
“I’m so excited for the work that (Cal State Fullerton students) are doing for this campus,” Froham said. “I’m so grateful to be here and share time with you all.”
Garcia’s reception is part of the month-long theme of “Acknowledging our Latinx Roots and Celebrating Our Diversity,” presented and coordinated by Mesa Cooperativa, a network of the Chicano and Latino organizations on campus.
In it’s final week of celebrating the Hispanic heritage The month will conclude with workshops looking at cultural dance hosted by the Ballet Folklorico Club of CSUF and the celebration of Indigenous People Day hosted by MEChA and Mesa Cooperativa.