Hispanic heritage month: LASA spotlight


Johari Reynolds, Staff Writer

September 15 through October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month across the United States. Being that the University of New Orleans is a diverse campus with a visible Hispanic community within it and within the greater New Orleans area, it was a good decision to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by honoring the Latin American Student Association(LASA) for those who have not heard of the organization. 


The president of the Latin American Student Association is Kathleen A. Mendoza who is a junior majoring in political science. Mendoza describes LASA as “an ethnic/cultural organization for students to celebrate the Latin American culture.” 


 “LASA is an organization that provides a space for anyone, not just those of Latin American descent, to learn about, discuss, and enjoy those things that make Latin America unique” said LaTesha Gonzales, advisor for the organization and also a Program Director of the Intensive English Language Program (IELP) in the Division of International Education.


Mendoza speaks more about it in the interview about what why this organization is important to students.“With the current political climate, it is necessary for Latin American students at UNO to have a safe-space. This is an outlet for students to embrace their ethnicity and feel celebrated” said Mendoza. Many agree that the visibility of minority groups and diversity is important on campus. 

Gonzales explained that Hispanic Heritage Month as being “like other months dedicated to cultural awareness, provides people with the understanding and knowledge of the contributions of those of Hispanic descent. It so important for people to see others who look like them who have been instrumental in our communities. These people have made our communities stronger, so taking a month to recognize that is essential.” 

Hispanic Heritage Month is a time dedicated to celebrating and honoring people in the United States that have heritage from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. Celebrating hispanic heritage can look different to everyone. Mendoza elaborated on what hispanic heritage means to LASA.

“Hispanic heritage to us is very important. In our meetings we prioritize making students feel welcomed. Therefore, at the end of every meeting, we have a spanish-speaking social session where students can speak spanish and connect with one another as a way to embrace their hispanic heritage” explained Mendoza. 


The LASA president says that “We are excited to be back as a student organization!” The Latin American Student Association has meetings every other Friday and at each meeting they focus on two Latin American countries by conversing learning about the history and culture of that country. Kathleen Mendoza said, “To keep track of any of our upcoming events, follow us on Instagram @unolasa or email us at unolasa.edu!” 


LaTesha Gonzales, LASA advisor, want UNO students to know, “ Although I am not Latina, I am honored to work with LASA because I truly enjoy learning about different cultures. Furthermore, supporting and promoting organizations such as LASA is important to me. I look forward to the upcoming meetings and events for our campus community.”