Events celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month at Penn State

September 12, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Beginning this week, Penn State units at campuses across the commonwealth will be holding virtual or distanced events in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated mid-September to mid-October.

The unifying theme for this year’s observances, chosen by the University Park Hispanic Heritage Month organizing committee in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, is “¡A Nuestra Salud!: Health in the Latinx Community.”

In September 1968, the U.S. Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim National Hispanic Heritage Week, expanded in 1989 to a month-long celebration of the culture and traditions of those who trace their roots to Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and South America. Sept. 15 was chosen as the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.

The month’s keynote event will be held Wednesday, Oct. 6 at 6 p.m., featuring Dr. David Hayes-Bautista, director of UCLA’s Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture and one of the nation’s foremost experts on Hispanic epidemiology.

“Hayes-Bautista will discuss what has become known as the ‘Latino health paradox’: the unexpected fact that Latinxs live longer and enjoy better outcomes in mental health and other areas than most of their fellow Americans — this despite the fact that they suffer from elevated rates of poverty, wage theft, and discrimination,” said A.K. Sandoval-Strausz, director of the Latina/o Studies Program at Penn State. “The keynote will be held via Zoom, allowing people from all the Commonwealth Campuses and across Pennsylvania to attend.”

Hayes-Bautista will also take questions from the audience. To attend, email to request the Zoom link.

Additional events taking place at the University’s campuses are listed below, and will be updated throughout the month as new events are added.


At University Park, the Hispanic Heritage Month organizing committee has organized several events in honor of the month. More information about these events, and a list of student organizations at University Park, is available on its website.

IST Alumni Identity Talks: Celebrating Hispanic HeritageSept. 15 — noon-1 p.m. Students, faculty and staff are invited to join alumni of the College of Information Sciences and Technology as they share their diverse experiences and perspectives gained through their educational and professional journeys. Panelists include Noel Claudio, class of 2014, strategy and operations analyst at Twitter; Diana Long, class of 2004, director and program manager, General Atlantic; and Jackie Sanchez, class of 2019, technology risk consultant.

Virtual Event: Sonia Manzano: “How to Talk to Kids about Race and Racism” — Sept.  16 — 8 p.m, virtual event, registration is required. Manzano is an author, actress, and speaker, better known for her role as María in “Sesame Street.” Manzano’s virtual Q&A will focus on how parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and those working with children can learn how to talk to kids about race and other topical matters that impact their daily lives. The virtual event is free to attend and open to the public. Questions must be submitted via the registration link prior to the event.

Hispanic Heritage Month Night of RemembranceSept. 22 — 6:30-8 p.m., Worship Hall, Pasquerilla Spiritual Center. Join the Penn State Latinx community in remembering and celebrating the lives of our lost loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic. More information here.

Ricardo Almodovar: “Being an Agent of Change”  — Sept. 23 — 5:30-6:30 p.m., 134 HUB-Robeson Center (virtual conversation). Almodovar is a community advocate, PA State Coordinator for the Campus Vote Project of the Fair Elections Center, and a Commissioner for the Pennsylvania Advisory Commission on LGBTQ+ Affair. He will address his work at the local and state level and will share his advice on how students can get involved in community advocacy. 

The cast and creative team of En Garde Arts' “Fandango for Butterflies (and Coyotes)” will lead a traditional community celebrationSept 28 — 6 p.m., Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza, S. Fraser Street between Calder Way and Beaver Ave. Free and open to the public, the En Garde Arts professionals will guide participants through the steps of the Zapateado, a lively and percussive narrative dance style typically performed during Mexican fandangos, during the "fandango de la comunidad." Read more at

En Garde Arts presents “Fandango for Butterflies (and Coyotes)”Sept. 30 — 7:30 p.m., Eisenhower Auditorium. This theatrical production gathers inspiration from interviews with undocumented immigrants from Latin America living in New York City. The piece takes the form of a fandango, a community celebration in which stories are brought to life through live performance, music and dance. Free “Artistic Viewpoints” discussion at 6:30 p.m. Visit for event details and to purchase tickets. 

¡Vamonos! 2021 Oct. 1 – 4-8 p.m. Recruitment event for Latina/o 9th–12th graders from Pennsylvania. Registration is required. Sponsored by Penn State Undergraduate Admissions and the Multicultural Outreach Office.

Lorgia García Peña: “A Full Stature of Humanity: Latinx Difference, Colonial Musings, and Black Belonging During Reconstruction” — Oct. 4 – 12:15-1:30 p.m., 102 Kern Building or via Zoom (email for the Zoom link). García-Peña is a first-generation Black Latina scholar at Tufts University. She studies Blackness, colonialism, migration, and diaspora with a special focus on Black Latinidad. Presented by the Comparative Literature Luncheon Series.

2021 Hispanic Heritage Month Virtual Keynote Event: ‘The Latino Health Paradox’Oct. 6 – 6 p.m. (email for the Zoom link). Dr. David E. Hayes-Bautista, director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, will speak about Latinx health and the mystery behind Latinx epidemiological outcomes.  Sponsored by the Latina/o Studies Program and co-sponsored by the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, Offi­ce of Educational Equity; Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese; and Eberly College of Science.

Hispanic Heritage Month Cultural Night, with Denisse Rojas Márquez: “A Nuestra Salud: Community Action in 2021” — Oct. 15 6-9 p.m., Heritage Hall, HUB-Robeson Center.

Tickets required but are free. Please check this link for updates after Oct. 1. Rojas Márquez is a medical student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and co-founder of Pre-Health DREAMers, a national organization that provides advising and resources to undocumented students who would like to pursue careers in medicine. 

Dolores Huerta Day of Service: “Own Your Health!” Health Clinic and Fair — Oct. 17 2-5 p.m., Heritage Hall, HUB-Robeson Center. Members of the Penn State community have the opportunity to learn about health resources on and off campus and participate in free noninvasive health and physical readiness assessments, COVID-19 vaccinations, HIV testing, lipid panels, hearing testing, and more. A current Penn State ID will be required for health assessments. Organized by the Hispanic Heritage Month 2021 Committee and sponsored by University Health Services.


Afro-LatinX EventSept. 15 12:15-1:15 p.m., Room 215 Sutherland. Kick off Hispanic Heritage Month at Penn State Abington by talking about what it means to be Afro-LatinX.

LatinX Panel Discussion — Sept. 28 3 to 4 p.m., Lubert Commons. The Penn State Abington Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion will present a panel of speakers who will discuss their experiences and their culture as well as present day support for local LatinX students.


Penn State Berks will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with a variety of in-person and virtual events, each intended for a specific audience, including prospective and current students, the campus community, and the general public. The complete list of events is available here, and includes:

Charlas con Chocolates 2:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, from Sept. 15, 2021 through Nov. 17, 2022. Penn State Berks students, faculty and staff are invited to this weekly gathering to enjoy cultural conversations and word games in Spanish while sampling chocolates of the Americas.  

Latin Fest — Sept. 22. An annual event celebrating Latin heritage, Latin Fest is free and open to students, faculty, staff and the general public. With the theme of “one language; many cultures,” the event will include live performances and other presentations, followed by a taste of Latin cuisine. 

Day of the Dead Celebration — Nov. 1 6 p.m. Perkins Student Center Multipurpose Room.

This free event is open to Penn State Berks students, faculty and staff, as well as the general public. Penn State Berks will celebrate the rich Mexican traditions of Day of the Dead with an illustrated talk and refreshments traditionally served during this holiday. 


Hispanic Heritage Month Jeopardy Trivia Sept. 16 — noon, Student Union. A trivia contest with prizes. Open to students. For more information, contact Tina Brackett-Wood at

Hispanic Heritage Month “Are You Smarter Than …” TriviaOct. 15 — noon, Student Union. A trivia contest with prizes. Open to students. For more information, contact Tina Brackett-Wood at


Carlos Andrés GómezSept. 23 7 p.m. Gómez is a Colombian American poet, speaker, actor, and equity and inclusion strategist from New York City. He is the author of “Fractures,” winner of the Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry; “Hijito,” bestseller and winner of the Broken River Prize; and the memoir “Man Up: Reimagining Modern Manhood.” A star of HBO’s “Def Poetry Jam,” TV One’s “Verses and Flow,” and Spike Lee’s “Inside Man,” his honors include the Sandy Crimmins National Prize for Poetry, Atlanta Review International Poetry Prize, Foreword INDIES Gold Medal, and the International Book Award. He partnered with John Legend on “Senior Orientation,” a program to counteract bullying and champion inclusive masculinity among high school students.


Spoken word artist Carlos Andrés Gómez — Sept. 22 — Penn State Lehigh Valley’s Office of Student Life and the Hispanic Organization and Latino Association (HOLA) will welcome acclaimed spoken word artist Carlos Andres Gomez back to the campus as part of the annual observance of National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Last Updated September 16, 2021