HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Holyoke Community College celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month on Wednesday with a Latinx fiesta.

Holyoke has the largest Puerto Rican population per capita outside of the island, and HCC itself has a large percentage of students that fall under the Latinx umbrella. Wednesday’s celebration offering students and faculty alike un pedacito de casa, a piece of home.

The Campus Center at HCC was bustling on Wednesday, students and staff moving from table to table, talking and learning about different 20 different Hispanic cultures at the Latinx fiesta.

“Each table represents a different country under the Latinx umbrella representing a piece of the different countries here,” stated Alannah Brunt, Student and Member of the Latinx Empowerment Association.

Students were able to engage in conversations that help enable reflections on multiple facets of their identities. Brunt saying that Latinos love showing off their cultural pride saying students were loud and proud, “I think it’s important because it helps show the student population who is here what they are representing and giving a home to folks around. It shows folks that they are not alone and it also shows of the community.”

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, El Centro at HCC commissioned muralist Betsy Casañas to create three new campus murals that represent the institution and the community they serve

Casañas tells 22News, “I want them to feel a sense of welcome like they are welcome here, this is a a place that appreciates our impact on the community or appreciates our need to also be seen.”

Casañas murals show La Escuela de Bomba y Plena de Tata Cepeda in Puerto Rico, a portrait of a Vejigante, and what she calls the starter pack of different historical figures that Latinos should familiarize themselves with.

“As artists, as muralists of Latino descent, I think it’s important for us to be the voice for communities that stories have been silenced right or stories have been ignored,” added Casañas.

HCC’s next Hispanic heritage event takes place next Wednesday at the campus center cafeteria,
they will be raising funds to go towards scholarships for Latinx students at HCC.

Local News

Melissa Torres is a reporter who has been a part of the 22News team since 2021. Follow Melissa on X @melissatorrestv and view her bio to see more of her work.