Southeast Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month

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Southeast Missouri State University celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month to commemorate Hispanic heritage and culture. The month of celebration features events, a scholarship and a new initiative aiming to increase enrollment.

Hispanic Heritage Month is also an opportunity to recognize the many contributions of individuals with Hispanic heritage, said Sonia Rucker, vice president for equity, access and behavioral health at Southeast.

“Hispanic Heritage Month provides an opportunity for us to recognize, acknowledge and pay tribute to the valuable contributions of Hispanics and Latinos to the United States, Cape Girardeau (Missouri) and the surrounding region, especially to the Southeast campus,” she said. “You cannot speak about American history without acknowledging the role that Latinos have played and the contributions they have made to American culture in the form of language, music, art, culture and food. This annual commemoration allows us to recognize their contributions to our national story.”

This year’s celebration marks an increase in the number of Hispanic students enrolled at Southeast for the 2020 academic year.

According to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, while the number of students graduating from Missouri high schools fell slightly in 2020, the number of high school graduates who are Hispanic grew by 4%. Rucker said it is important for the University to provide a foundation of supportive, affordable and high quality education to Hispanic and Latino students. Southeast should foster a diverse campus environment that meets increasing growth and needs for Hispanic and Latino faculty and staff.

This 2020 academic year, Southeast’s Office of Admissions formed the Hispanic Recruitment and Retention Task Force to develop and execute a recruitment plan to enhance efforts to encourage Hispanic students and families to consider Southeast.

The University is committed to assist students of Hispanic/Latino descent to achieve their educational goals, Rucker said. This year’s celebration also highlights the “Brindando Educación con Acceso,” or Believing Everyone Can Achieve (BECA) Hispanic/Latino scholarship established in 2019 through the Southeast Missouri University Foundation.

“The creation of this scholarship is just one step in addressing the disparity in the number of Hispanic students who attend college versus the overall representation of those who are of Hispanic descent currently residing in Missouri,” said Rucker.

The recipient of the BECA scholarship will be a student of Hispanic or Latino heritage who graduated from a high school in the United States. Applicants must write a 300-word essay showing significant affiliation with Latino/Hispanic culture and address why it is important to have Latinidad representation within the Southeast community.

Approximately $4,800 has been raised through the Southeast Missouri University Foundation, toward a goal of $10,000 needed to endow the scholarship. To support the BECA scholarship, visit impact.semo.edu/campaigns/beca.

Southeast’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month culminates in “Food Truck Thursday” Oct. 15 from 12:30-2:30 p.m. on Normal Avenue between Academic Hall and Kent Library.

The Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity and the Student Organization of Latinos invites the Southeast and Cape Girardeau communities to enjoy great food, music and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

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