By Matthew Tirado
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – As Hispanic Heritage Month comes to an end, students, teachers and administrators have a differing amount of knowledge about an ever-growing community.
According to Camden County College’s 2010-2015 strategic plan, the percentage of Hispanic students attending is projected to increase from its current 9 percent to 16 percent by 2016. With this type of major change comes the task of making everyone at CCC more educated about this diverse and growing culture.
Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 and celebrates the many contributions of Latino Americans to American history, was first acknowledged in 1968 by President Lyndon B. Johnson and was expanded in 1988 by President Ronald W. Reagan. Sept. 15 is an especially significant date for most Latinos because it marks the day of independence for many Latin American countries, including Costa Rica, Guatemala and Honduras.
Camden County College has several events throughout the school year to recognize this diverse culture; however, there is no formal Hispanic cultural club. Said Executive Dean James N. Canonica, “Any student group may apply to be a club. It is totally student generated.” Canonica said there were plans to create a Hispanic Cultural Club.
Despite the fact there is no formal club, on Oct. 16 at 6 p.m., the Language and Culture Department sponsored by Student Activities hosted the film “Maria Full of Grace,” which gave students a chance to come out and enjoy tacos and refreshments and get some extra-credit participation points in the process.
Some students among CCC’s current population are unaware of Hispanic Heritage Month. Jon Woods, 21, of Berlin Township, stated he didn’t know the specifics of it. Woods, a second-year international studies major, went on to say, “Everybody knows about Black History Month.”
Making students more aware of the impact Latinos have had in American society is key to having a well-rounded and evenly balanced education. Kathryn L’Esperance, manager of the International Student Service office, said she believed Hispanic Heritage Month is very important. “Anything that makes students more aware about anything around them is important,” she stated. She went on to say she wished everybody at CCC spoke Spanish and she admired the culture.