Celebrating Hispanic People and Cultures
As a young boy growing up in Monterrey, Mexico I had tremendous admiration for my grandfather, who lived in Texas. My siblings and I would visit him and my grandmother every summer and that changed the course of my life. He was the foreman on a construction site at Texas A&M University when I was about 6 or 7, and seeing him with the blueprints made me want to go to a place he built when I grew up. When I was 15, my younger brother and I moved to the United States as a step in that direction.
My grandfather was illustrative of the many Hispanic Americans who have been integral to the prosperity of the U.S. People of Latin descent have made tremendous contributions to our nation, not only through their labor but through their culture and knowledge, although these contributions haven’t always been recognized. Luckily that’s changing, in part thanks to Hispanic Heritage Month, which is observed annually from September 15 to October 15. The celebration dates are important as they encompass the independence days of many countries that were formerly part of “New Spain,” including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua (September 15), Mexico (September 16) and Chile (September 18).
It’s exciting for me to see a broader awareness of my home culture making inroads into daily life. The movie Coco, which showcases El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) was a real milestone. We’re also seeing increased recognition of Hispanic people and their accomplishments, from labor leader and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez (Mexican American) to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor (Puerto Rican), singer-songwriter Camilla Cabelo (Cuban) to baseball legend and leader of his eponymous foundation Mariano Rivera (Panamanian), to name just a few. This rich diversity of origin gives you a sense of the breadth of “Hispanic culture” and perfectly illustrates to the theme of this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month: “Unidos: inclusivity for a stronger nation.”
My brother and I only spoke Spanish when we moved in with our grandparents, so I entered the 10th grade doubling up on ESL and regular English class. I was lucky to have a friend who made me practice my English with him until I got the accent right. In fact, it turns out that I have an ability to mimic and when I travel to other English or Spanish speaking countries I often come home with a newfound accent! I wanted to learn English to go to A&M of course, but back then a lot of people were often shamed for speaking Spanish. It’s much more widely accepted now.
Our parents joined us a few months later and my father quickly became a food services supervisor at A&M, helping to build a family tradition. After finishing high school, I fulfilled my dream and attended the university, graduating with a degree in computer science. I then started my career in engineering, which ultimately led me to Ribbon.
My association with the university didn’t end there. I’m now in my third season of broadcasting Texas A&M University Football for Spanish Radio on LEARFIELD, Bryan Broadcasting Corporation’s La Jefa 102.7 FM and TUDN’s 1010AM Houston. Not only am I in a stadium my grandfather helped build, I also get to sit in the press box where my father used to supervise catering. It’s an incredible full circle.
With every generation, we’re moving forward and seeing more and more Hispanics take positions of leadership across the spectrum. I’m proud to see all of these strong role models for my son and daughter, and I know that they’ll have opportunities that my grandfather never dreamed of. Hispanic Heritage Month makes that progress all the more apparent, and I look forward to it every year. Gig ‘em, Aggies!