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TXWES enjoys a fun-filled fiesta to kick off Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month

On Sept. 14, the Andrews Ballrooms in Martin Center came to life as an estimated 200 TXWES students, faculty, alumni, administrators and staff inaugurated Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month with dance, food, music, laughter and fellowship. As the crowd poured in, community and campus organizations beckoned with games and prizes, lending a festive air to the event. In addition to candy and prizes, students who visited the tables hosted by MANA de North Texas, Artes de la Rosa Community Center for the Arts (ADLR), Ollin Cuauhtli Dance Group, MPACT DFW, Beat HIV Tarrant County, Move Texas Voter Registration, the TXWES Student Programs Committee, the TXWES Latinx Student Association (LSA), the TXWES Bilingual Education Student Organization (BESO) and the TXWES Chapter of the American Chemical Society, also received a stamp in their Lotería cards. Students who visited all of the tables and filled their cards received a free t-shirt.  
After Master of Ceremonies and Professor of Music Dr. Ilka Araujo welcomed the crowd, TXWES senior and Gold Line Dance Team member Lionel Muñoz brought his inimitable energy to the event with his solo dance to Mike Candys’ "One Night in Ibiza." Next came the Wesleyan Singers, under the direction of Visiting Professor of Music Will Chandler, with their captivating performance of Mari Ésabel Valverde’s "Look Down, Fair Moon," accompanied by Collaborative Pianist and full-time Music instructor Keith Critcher. Following the lovely ballad, the group switched up the vibe, with the upbeat "Tiempo para un tiempo," by Conrado Monier Ribeaux, with stand-up bass played by Adjunct Professor of Music Dr. Peng Wang, and conga drums by Music student Sun Park.

Following the Wesleyan Singers, Mariachi Oro Azul and their conductor, Adjunct Professor of Music Ramón Niño III, took the stage. Showcasing the new addition of a harp to their ranks, played by Business Administration major Katherine Hernandez, the group began with a stirring interpretation of "Las chiapanecas," followed by a raucous rendition of José Alfredo Jiménez's classic charro anthem "El rey" that brought down the house. As vocalist Patricio Izaguirre belted out the tune with signature mariachi bravado, the crowd merrily whooped and sang along. Though the spirited performance was a tough act to follow, Baile Folklórico Quetzal de Fort Worth did not disappoint. Clad in brightly colored traditional costumes, Magaly Rae and Destiny Huerta performed traditional dances from Jalisco, Mexico. As they executed their strenuous routines, the dancers never compromised artistry and grace despite dizzying twirling, quick arm movements with which they displayed their lavishly embroidered skirts and frenetic percussive heel stomping. 
Of course, no Hispanic or Latinx cultural event would be complete without a sampling of delicious regional delicacies, and this year’s kickoff was no exception. Guests were treated to street tacos with a variety of fillings, as well as esquites (prepared corn), pupusas de queso (cheese-stuffed corn tortillas), tajadas (fried plantains), pastel tres leches (sponge cake soaked in three kinds of milk) and with everyone’s favorite, tamales, provided by Los Pastores and served up by Dr. Ricardo Rodriguez, Dean of Arts and Sciences, who wore a black guayabera (a light summer shirt worn in tropical climates) with colorful bands of intricately hand-woven flowers down the front. 
Following the music, dance, and scrumptious victuals, the crowd received the wisdom of three esteemed leaders of the Hispanic community in and beyond Fort Worth, two of whom proudly claim TXWES as their alma mater. Alumna Rosa Maria Berdeja, a highly regarded Fort Worth immigration attorney, and alumna Sandra Garcia, state chair of the Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas and winner of the Texas Education Agency’s Heroes for Children award, along with Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Ambassador co-chair, Leticia Esparza, spoke of their experiences as first-generation college students and highlighted the importance of higher education in their own lives and in the lives of their families and communities. 
In sum, the 2023 kickoff, a culmination of the hard work put in by the Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month Committee in cooperation with Bertie Gardner, Director of the University’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, proved a resounding success. Sophomore Abbie Bird, a student in Dr. Amy Bell’s Elementary Spanish I class, enthusiastically endorsed the event: “The Kickoff was such a wonderful immersion of culture. It was such a welcoming atmosphere for people who came in to learn about the culture and experience the music, food, and dancing. The space was electric and energizing to be a part of.” Brian Builta, Senior Director of Sponsored Programs and Foundation Relations, deemed the event “spectacular.” Alumni Board of Directors member, Veronica Martinez, one of the numerous TXWES alumni in attendance, said that “interacting with the students [was] [. . .] invigorating.” Provost Hector Quintanilla added: 
"It was wonderful to see so many students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members celebrating Hispanic Heritage month at Texas Wesleyan University. The food and entertainment were great and very much enjoyed by all. As a minority/Hispanic-Serving Institution, the event really highlighted the diversity of our student body and the value Texas Wesleyan places on diversity and inclusivity. I want to also extend my gratitude to the organizers, student groups, faculty, sponsors and guest speakers who supported the event."
The kickoff marked the beginning of a month-long program of activities. Consult the RamSpace calendar to see what is coming next so as not to miss a moment of the fun!

Campus clock tower with red flowers
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