Southeast Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month


Southeast Missouri State University will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month Sept. 15-Oct. 15 with a variety of events and activities commemorating Hispanic heritage and culture.

To mark this year’s celebration, the “Brindando Educacion con Acceso,” or Believing Everyone Can Achieve (BECA) Hispanic/Latino Scholarship has been established through the Southeast Missouri University Foundation.

Dr. Debbie Lee-DiStefano, Southeast professor of Spanish language and culture, made a gift to establish the award to help support students of Hispanic heritage who have graduated from a United States high school access a college education at Southeast. During this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month events, donations will be accepted to help support the endowment of the scholarship.

“There is a disparity in the number of Hispanics who attend college and the overall population in Missouri,” Lee-DiStefano said. “We hope to raise $10,000 and with this scholarship, we can support a student’s higher education dreams while alleviating the financial stress and burden of attending college.”

This year’s events continue to reflect and to recognize the many contributions of individuals with Hispanic heritage through music, art, culture, history and food.

“Hispanic Heritage Month is an excellent time to bring awareness to the rich, multifaceted history and culture of Hispanics, and to build a sense of community,” Lee-DiStefano said. “We hope to recognize the past, present and future generations this year, and rejoice together as one community.”

Upcoming events and entertainment throughout the month will include:

Tamales and Tortillas Fundraiser
Through Oct. 1,

Help raise funds for the BECA Scholarship by ordering homemade tamales and tortillas. Tamales are $15 per dozen and are available in chicken with green chili, pork or cheese. Tortillas are $5 per dozen. Orders can be submitted online and are due by Oct. 1. Orders will be delivered on Oct. 5.

¡Bienvenidos a nuestra comunidad! Meet and Greet
Sept. 12, 5-6:30 p.m., University Center Ballroom A

This event invites all Latino students, faculty and staff to come together to learn about programs and resources specific to Latino populations both on campus and in the community. The event is open to the University community and sponsored by the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity.

Dr. Debbie Lee-DiStefano and Dr. Raymond Laureano-Ortiz

“Puerto Rico, Post María: A Reality Revealed” Presentation and Discussion
Sept. 18, 6-7:30 p.m., University Center Program Lounge, Room 414

Dr. Debbie Lee-DiStefano, Southeast professor of Spanish language and culture, and Dr. Raymond Laureano-Ortiz, assistant professor in the School of Liberal Arts and General Education at the Ana G. Méndez University in Gurabo, Puerto Rico, lead a discussion about Puerto Rico’s history, government, politics and the island’s continued recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria, a category 5 hurricane that devastated the island in September 2017.

Food Truck Friday in Honor of Hispanic Heritage Month
Sept. 20, 5-8 p.m., Rust Center for Media’s south parking lot, 325 Broadway

Enjoy the flavors of Cape Girardeau’s food trucks and local favorite eateries while celebrating Southeast’s Hispanic Heritage Month with live entertainment and local artists. This event is sponsored by Southeast’s Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity, the Student Organization of Latinos (SOL) and the Rust Center for Media.

Film Screening of Disney’s “Coco”
Oct. 6, 7 p.m., Lorimier Cemetery, 500 N. Fountain St.

The Office of Continuing Education and the Economic and Business Engagement Center presents Disney’s “Coco,” a vibrant tale of family, fun and adventure following an aspiring young musician named Miguel as he embarks on an extraordinary journey to the magical land of his ancestors. This fun-filled family event for the local and campus community will also feature “Dia de a Las Muertes” face painting and glow sticks for purchase from the Student Organization of Latinos (SOL), and Halloween-themed treats for purchase made by the Hospitality Management Student Association. Additionally, the Historic Preservation Student Association will be giving ghostly tours of Old Lorimier Cemetery for visitors to meet some of the most infamous and famous Cape citizens.

An Evening of Tapas and Sangria
Oct. 11, 6-8 p.m. River Ridge Winery, County Road 321, Commerce, Missouri

Enjoy Spanish tapas and sangria, listen to Spanish gitano and flamenco music, and enjoy an informative presentation by Dr. Frank Nickell about “When Cape Girardeau was Spanish.” Tickets are $30 per person and all proceeds help endow the BECA Scholarship. To register, visit