Celebrating the Cultures of Our Hispanic and Latinx Communities

A message to the Saint Mary's Community

by Brother Thomas Jones, FSC, Interim President | September 27, 2023

As many of you already know, we’re in the midst of Latinx Heritage Month (also known as National Hispanic Heritage Month), an occasion when we honor the cultures and contributions of both Hispanic and Latinx Americans. 

Some of you may not be aware that Saint Mary’s has been designated by the White House and U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), defined in part as an institution that has an enrollment of undergraduate full-time equivalent students that is at least 25 percent Hispanic students. It’s a distinction of which we can be proud.

Our HSI designation demonstrates our commitment to a diverse student body and provides a variety of opportunities for our students and faculty, especially in ways related to grants and critical funding.    

A six-year, $2.7 million grant awarded to Saint Mary’s in 2016 by the Department of Education’s Title III STEM program, for instance, directed important resources to our School of Science to help create pathways into science fields for our Hispanic students. Other HSI-related grants have been awarded to our School of Science and School of Liberal Arts, assisting students and faculty in areas of research, support, and curricular programming.  

Latinx Heritage Month runs from September 15 through October 15. Those dates are intentional, as this period marks anniversaries of independence for Latin American countries such as Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua. The Latinx community, this reminds us, is not only rich in culture and tradition, but highly diverse in its own right!

Latinx Heritage Month banner

Latinx culture is an important part of American culture to be appreciated, understood, and celebrated. We see this at Saint Mary’s, for instance, through groups such as Ballet Folklorico Guadalupano, which preserves and showcases the splendor of Mexico's traditional dance, music, dress, and history, and La Hermandad, through which students support and create “familia.”

I appreciate the many speakers, activities, and programs being offered by departments, especially the annual Latinx symposium put on by the Afro-Latinx, Latinx, Indigenous Peoples Action Subcommittee (ALLIPAS) of our College Committee for Inclusive Excellence. More details on the symposium will be shared soon. I encourage you to attend this and other Latinx Heritage Month events and show your support of our students, staff, and faculty.

Latinx Heritage Month is also a time to reflect on the strong family ties and community connections that are such an important part of Latinx and Hispanic cultures.

Our Institute for Latino and Latin American Studies (ILaLS) is another important resource on campus, as it showcases the research and talents of our Latinx faculty and those doing research about Latinx and Latin American communities. This Institute also sponsors the Brother Camillus Chavez ILaLS Student Award and co-sponsors the ALLIPAS symposium, while also providing financial assistance to those Latinx students in need. 

Latinx Heritage Month is also a time to reflect on the strong family ties and community connections that are such an important part of Latinx and Hispanic cultures. They reflect and resonate very much with our Saint Mary’s Lasallian Catholic values and heritage. 

As a community, we continue to be inspired by the life and legacy of our dear colleague, mentor and friend, Brother Camillus Chavez, FSC, ’51, who passed away in the spring. Brother Camillus was a remarkable individual—an educator, mentor, counselor, and confidante. His healing spirit continues to bless us. Brother Charles Hilken, FSC wrote in a beautiful tribute that Brother Camillus’s efforts helped “ensure the College created a true sense of belonging for Latinx students.” He will never be forgotten at Saint Mary’s College.

Regardless of whether one identifies as Latinx, Latinx Heritage Month offers a great opportunity to reflect on what it means to study, live, and work at a Hispanic-Serving Institution.

My personal thanks to the students, faculty, and staff of Saint Mary’s College for the contributions you make to ensuring that we honor and celebrate the richness of our diverse community on this occasion and throughout the year. ¡Qué disfruten las celebraciones!


Brother Thomas Jones, FSC

Interim President