Dustin Steinhoff, News Editor

Hispanic Heritage Month is Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 and there are plenty of events to celebrate at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, such as the Hispanic Heritage Month Kick-Off, Latinx Meet and Greet, Salsa Night and much more.

The Hispanic Heritage Kick-Off set the bar for the month of Hispanic cultural celebration with students eating ice cream and churros while watching traditional Spanish dancers perform onstage at The Nosh on Sept. 17.

The Latinx Meet and Greet took place on Sept. 20 in Century Room C of the Millennium Student Center. The event featured a wide variety of Spanish foods and music while providing an opportunity for Hispanic and Spanish-speaking students, faculty and alumni of UMSL to connect with one another through a shared culture.

Rudy Angulo, an UMSL alumni, is part of the Mexican Cultural Society and served as president of the Hispanic and Latinx Law Students Association at St. Louis University. He came to the meet and greet in order to encourage Hispanic UMSL undergraduates to follow their goals.

“This [event] seemed like a good opportunity to come and maybe show people that you can do a lot with your UMSL degree and that alumni are doing cool things in the community and like to get involved,” Angulo said.

Dean of Pierre Laclede Honors College Edward Munn Sanchez, who was born in Madrid, Spain, and Dean of College of Arts and Sciences Andrew Kersten, who is part Cuban, were in attendance at the meet and greet. Sanchez, who was previously the assistant dean for academic affairs and diversity at the University of South Carolina Honors College, began acting as the dean of Pierre Laclede Honors College Aug. 1. Having been in St. Louis for a short time, Sanchez was excited to take this opportunity to meet people in the area with a Hispanic heritage such as himself.

“It’s nice to be speaking Spanish and to meet people in the Latino Hispanic community,” Sanchez said.

Angulo also took the meet and greet as an opportunity to meet other Hispanics, something he has found to be more difficult in St. Louis than his previous city.

“I grew up in Los Angeles where it was really easy to connect with other Hispanics, since there are a lot more in that area. In St. Louis, it’s not very easy. We’re separated both by demographics and economics, so it’s really important to have these kinds of events where you can come together and talk to people who have had similar experiences to what you had growing up.”

Keila Gonzalez, junior, business administration, and vice president of Hispanic Latino Association, was one of many HISLA members in attendance who helped make the Latinx Meet and Greet successful.

“Our purpose at HISLA has always been to educate and raise awareness of our culture so that we can raise cultural understanding and have the opportunity to share that with the community and students,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez was born in Columbia, where she lived for 12 years before moving to the U.S. Despite her move to the U.S., she has not lost her Hispanic culture.

“Even though we moved here, my mother always encouraged me to keep my roots. She would speak to me in Spanish at home, so I never lost it,” Gonzalez said.

Students should not worry if they missed these events because there are plenty of on-campus activities occurring in October.

“I really like the events coming up,” Sanchez said. “They have a nice combination of social events, meet and greet events and more academically oriented events. I’m certainly going to attend several of them.”

Every Wednesday during Hispanic Heritage Month from 11 a.m. through 2 p.m. in the Nosh, a different Hispanic country’s dish will be presented. Some of these dishes will be coming from countries including Cuba, Spain, Argentina and Peru. HISLA is also hosting Salsa Night in the Pilot House on Sept. 27, where professional dancers will be present to teach students the traditional Hispanic dance. Visit UMSL’s event calendar for information on more Hispanic heritage events.