The history of Kent State’s Hispanic Heritage Month

James Miller

When T. David Garcia first arrived at Kent State four years ago, he found that Hispanic heritage was not celebrated on campus.

“I felt there was an absence of a Latino group,” said Garcia, associate vice president for Enrollment Management.

In 2010, Garcia founded a group known as the Latino Networking Caucus, compiling a number of staff and faculty who found it necessary to celebrate Hispanic heritage. People did not even need to be Latino to join but instead needed to think that the absence of Hispanic culture was relevant enough to create a group for it.

“[The group works on] outreach to student organizations…once you bring students together, that then leads to how [students] can develop programs and activities [to celebrate Hispanic heritage],” Garcia said.

In addition to the LNC putting on a variety of different programs, especially during Hispanic Heritage month, the organization allows students to come and seek mentorship and advice about how to overcome barriers.

When Garcia formed the group, Hispanic heritage at Kent State became more prominent on campus. Below is a look at a timeline detailing how the university got to where it is today regarding Hispanic Heritage month:

  • 1990: Spanish and Latino Student Association (SALSA) is formed. Vania Alvarez-Minah, enrollment management and student services advisor at the Geauga campus, said, “In general, students in SALSA helped out with supporting and promoting students with similar backgrounds.” Alvarez-Minah said the group led to the formation of a fraternity, Phi Lambda Alpha, which fizzled away at Kent State after some time.
  • Fall 1991: First-time SALSA members worked with Kupita/Transiciones, which served as an “orientation program for newly admitted African American, Latino American and Native American students,” Alvarez-Minah said.
  • November 1991: SALSA is named the Student Organization of the Month from the Department of Student Activities and the Student Leadership Development Board of Kent State.
  • 1994: Annual attendance began at the United States Hispanic Leadership Conference for SALSA.
  • Feb. 28, 1995: SALSA students participate in luncheon portion of an admissions program named Try Something Different.
  • Spring 1995: Course PAS 49095 is formed; otherwise known as “Introduction to Latinos in American Society.” Alvarez-Minah said SALSA helped to form this course. Today, students can take courses such as “Latinos, the African Diaspora and American Society” and “Afro-Latin America,” according to
  • Mar. 21, 1996: Hispanic Discovery Day goes all day long, thanks to the work of SALSA.
  • Aug. 1, 2009: Garcia becomes part of Kent State. Within a year, he will find that not enough is being done on campus regarding Hispanic culture and celebrating its heritage.
  • 2010: LNC is formed.

Neither Garcia nor Alvarez-Minah, both prominent figures in helping to make Hispanic heritage widely celebrated on Kent State campus, were able to pinpoint an exact point in time that Kent State University began recognizing Hispanic Heritage month.