NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Hispanic Heritage Month now in session

“We could always do more to be visible.”

Analuz Garcia, Assistant  Director of Community & International Relations

Northern Essex will host several events on both campuses celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month throughout October.

NECC Student Life and the Community & International Relations staff have collaborated in creating events for the public. “In the past, student life has done some activities,” says Vengerflutta Smith, Director of Student Life. “I wanted to make sure to have a more collaborative effort and more deliberate focus, and to include more activities that our students could be a part of the planning.”

Smith states that she had met with the Community and International Relations director, Analuz Garcia, and Professor Lisette Espinoza regarding events being held in the community. She discussed with them about the feedback she received from

photo of a women with black vurly hair dark skin and the background is blackPhoto by NECC Newsroom

Elizabeth Acevedo, poet and author

students about what they wanted to see happen on campus. Most suggestions included movies and music and other fun activities, and based the schedule off of these suggestions. “They [Garcia & Espinoza] were very pleased and excited because we hadn’t met like that before.”

One event that Smith is hosting is the Student Life Film Series’ screening of “Coco” on Oct. 4 at 6:30 at El Hefni. The film was released in 2017 by Disney’s Pixar Studio. It centers around a boy, Miguel, living in Mexico who dreams of becoming a musician. But his family has banned music from the household, and so he travels to the Land of the Dead in order to find his idol on the sacred Day of the Dead. Smith says that, although she hasn’t seen it, she had heard through students that they felt the film showed an authentic representation of their culture.

Smith and Garcia have scheduled some events to supporting the White Fund Enlightenment Series.

“The White Fund Enlightenment program helps to bring in speakers and poets from around the community,” says Garcia. They will be hosting speaker Elizabeth Acevedo, a poet, author, and performing artist  who will be reading and performing

poster of poet Elizabeth Acevedo promoting her novel poet xPhoto by NECC Newsroom

‘The Poet X’ A Novel by Elizabeth Acevedo will be read and performed at Lawrence Public Library

from her new novel-in-verse, “The Poet X.” on October 4th at 6:00 PM at the Lawrence Public Library. A discussion group will meet on Tuesday, Oct. 2, at 6 p.m.. This group is open to the public and will discuss Elizabeth Acevedo’s “The Poet X.”

“I am most excited to see Elizabeth Acevedo, and to see Commissioner Santiago.” says Garcia.

What many students may not know is that Northern Essex was the first certified Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) in New England. Federal institutes must have at least 25 percent Hispanic enrollment rate to be eligible for HSI. According to Garcia, Northern Essex has approximately 48% enrollment rate of Hispanic & Latinx students. “With so many [students], how could we not celebrate?” says Garcia. “As an HSI, NECC has received grants that helped create pilots like the Lawrence CPAC and the Student Success Center.”

Bryce Grant, of Andover,  believes that by celebrating Hispanic heritage, it can highlight the diversity that makes NECC so unique. “If it’s clear that minorities want education, it’s better for the institute to allow them.” she says. “Years go by, more people want higher education.” When asked what she would like to see on campus that celebrate campus diversity, she replied that she would like to see the hallways decorated with diverse art. Alina Conception of Haverhill, suggested the campus offer more language classes to students. “It is diverse but not that diverse.” she says “ I noticed there were no Spanish translations on any of the monitors or signs around here.” Analuz Garcia stresses that NECC is always pushing for more minority groups to be seen and addressed on campus. “We could always do more to be visible.” she says.