News, On Campus

BC Celebrates Community at Annual Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month Kickoff

Silence filled a crowded room in Gasson Hall on Friday night as colorful flags and golden balloons lined the front of the room. Students and faculty bowed their heads as Yvonne McBarnett, director of the Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center (BAIC), led a prayer to begin the Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month celebration.

“Dear God, you’re representing every one of us, not only us but our families,” McBarnett said. “We thank you for the opportunity to be here at Boston College and what they’re allowing us to do this evening—this is so special to us that we can celebrate each other’s cultures.”

McBarnett’s prayer kicked off a lineup of speakers and performances to commemorate the first day of Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month, which is celebrated each year from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. 

The co-recipients of the 2023 Saint Oscar A. Romero Scholarship—an award given to a BC junior for their involvement in the Hispanic/Latino community both on and off campus—also spoke at the celebration.

Kevin Lopez, a recipient of the scholarship and MCAS ’24, discussed his work at the BAIC and how he aims to support his peers during their time at BC.

“Going to BC, I knew I wanted to build a strong sense of community, and the way I worked towards that is by working at the [BAIC] since freshman year,” Lopez said. “And from my three years working there, I have been helping other students, making sure none of them felt that pressure to step out of BC or feel like they aren’t capable of finishing their courses or graduating.”

Jonathan Mora, the other Romero scholarship recipient and LSEHD ’24, detailed his application process for the scholarship. Mora said he did not think he was capable of impacting the Latino community until he met other Hispanic students at BC.

“As somebody who didn’t know about the scholarship until coming to BC, I didn’t think that I had a chance to [win it],” Mora said. “It wasn’t until I was involved on campus and had an opportunity to meet other people who look like me, and you know, also didn’t think that they had a chance and by then I thought, ‘Okay, this is equal game.’”

Mora ended his speech by telling audience members there is always someone praying and rooting for them.

“I want you guys to understand that there’s people out there rooting for you, and you may not even know who they are,” Mora said. “There’s people out there that may not be right next to you, but they’re praying that one day you’ll be a better version of yourself the next day—and if not the next day, then the next hour.”

Along with the speeches from Lopez and Mora, the celebration featured a flag ceremony where students from each Hispanic/Latinx country paraded into the room with a colorful flag and fun facts about their country. 

Latin dance groups Fuego del Corazón and Vida de Intensa Pasión (VIP) entertained the crowd to the tune of upbeat music. There was also a vocal performance from Nina Giancola, LSEHD ’25.

To wrap up the speeches, Joana Maynard, assistant director of the BAIC and one of the organizers of the event, encouraged students to utilize resources at the BAIC and to share their talents with their community.

“When I look around I see all kinds of diversity . . . somebody next to you, behind you, around you, where you live, where you eat, where you study, needs to know you because you have a lot to offer, okay, so please never minimize who you are or what you have,” Maynard said. 

Maynard thanked the audience for attending the celebration.

“We have a whole 30 more days to go, so on the 15th of October, then this particular month will come to an end,” Maynard said. “It doesn’t mean that we go anywhere—we’re still here.”

September 17, 2023