Why We Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month
Every year, beginning on September 15th, we are invited to participate in a month-long celebration of Hispanic-American history and culture, honoring the lasting impacts they have made on our society. You might be thinking, “Why does Hispanic Heritage Month start in the middle of the month?” That’s a valid question. This seemingly random date has deep historical significance, however. September 15th is the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.1 Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence during this period as well, on September 16th and 18th, respectively. Lastly, Dia de la Raza, or Day of the Race, falls on October 12th.2 Thus, to capture all of these monumental days in the history of Hispanic culture, the celebration falls mid-September to mid-October.
We asked Scientist.com team members who identify as Hispanic-American to share why they think it is important to celebrate this month and what makes them proud of their heritage. Here’s what they had to say:
Javier Pineda, Data Scientist
Mexico, El Salvador
“Achieving the American dream is seen by many to be difficult and near impossible. As a Mexican- and Salvadoran-American, I have witnessed first-hand this difficulty, but have also witnessed how achievable it really is. It is imperative to celebrate Hispanic-American achievements and continue to inspire the next generation to realize their full potential.
I am most proud of the importance that my Hispanic heritage places on family. In more cases than one I have seen such tremendous sacrifices made for the good of family, performed with unwavering selflessness. Family is paramount. After that, the food of course!”
Javier’s Recommended Resources:
“For those in high school or college looking for opportunities in the sciences, I highly recommend looking into the Broad Institute’s Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science at MIT (MITES) or the Broad Summer Research Program (BSRP), respectively. I participated in the latter and found it to be a critical factor in my scientific education and career.”
Stefania Longo, Marketing Manager
“I think it is very important that we honor the achievements of Hispanic-Americans because behind many of those achievements is often a lot of sacrifice, adversity and hurdles that go unseen. As a daughter of immigrants, I have seen how much my parents had to sacrifice in order to pave the way for a better life, not only for themselves, but for my sister and I. Thus, whenever the achievements of a Hispanic-American are celebrated, it also honors the people that came before them that helped make it possible.
From the vibrant colors in Mexican art to the lively music played at every family party, and finally to the family-centric nature of Mexican culture, there is so much to be proud of. I can’t forget to give a special shout out to the delicious Mexican cuisine that I was fortunate enough to grow up eating, and no, I’m not talking about Taco Bell.”
Stefania’s Recommended Resources:
“The Hispanic Scholarship Fund is a great resource for high school students who are looking for guidance as they take their next steps towards pursuing higher education!”
Ricky Alvarado, Business Development Manager
“It is important because seeing someone become a leader, elite athlete or renowned artist reminds us that it’s possible for us if they could do it.
I think we can all agree that Mexican food is top-tier cuisine. There are so many great options that we regularly order at our local taco shop or restaurant, but there are so many more local dishes that haven’t made their way here that are just as delicious.”
Sean Preci, Sr. Director, Marketing & Content
“Like Native Americans, Hispanic Americans inhabited much of the land that currently makes up the southwestern US, so it is important to recognize both groups’ achievements as well as contributions to our country’s overall culture and identity.
What makes me most proud of my heritage is the emphasis on family, sacrifice and hard work. For many immigrants, including my grandfather, these three themes are intertwined, becoming traits that he passed down to his children, including my mother, and traits that I am also proud to pass on to my own children. What makes me most proud of my culture is the food, duh!”
Hispanics don’t just exist in America, they help it thrive. Here are some facts that explain why:
- Hispanics comprise 18.9% of the US population, making them the second largest racial/ethnic group in the nation3 according to 2020 Census data
- According to 2019 data, if U.S. Hispanics were an independent nation, they would be tied for the 7th largest GDP in the world, due to their total economic output of $2.7 trillion that year4
- Hispanics are helping drive U.S. workforce growth, with projections for Hispanics to comprise 78% of net new workers between 2020 and 20305
- In 2019, Hispanics accounted for 21.7% of U.S. undergraduate college students, making them the second largest ethnic group to be enrolled in undergraduate studies6
As you saw in our teammates’ responses, there are many reasons why celebrating this month is important to not only the Latino community, but the country as a whole. The United States is a melting pot of many rich cultures, so it is our duty to educate each other and foster respect for others’ cultures. So, whether you yourself identify as Hispanic-American, have Hispanic friends or family, or simply have an appreciation for Latin culture, everyone is encouraged to join in on the celebration this month.
- About National Hispanic Heritage Month [online]. National Hispanic Heritage Month. Available from: https://www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov/about/ [Accessed 15 September 2022].
- Talley, Patricia Ann. . Rather than Columbus Day, “Dia de la Raza” Teaches Honor, Respect & Dignity for All People! [online]. ImagineMexico.com. Available from: https://imagine-mexico.com/dia-de-la-raza/ [Accessed 15 September 2022].
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health. Available from: https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=3&lvlid=64 [Accessed 15 September 2022].
- Contreras, Russell. . Report: U.S. Latino GDP tied with France, greater than Italy [online]. Axios. Available from: https://www.axios.com/2021/09/30/us-latino-gdp-france-italy-economy [Accessed 15 September 2022].
- Dubina, Kevin.  Hispanics in the Labor Force: 5 Facts [online]. U.S Department of Labor Blog. Available from: https://blog.dol.gov/2021/09/15/hispanics-in-the-labor-force-5-facts#:~:text=1%20out%20of%205&text=The%20Hispanic%20proportion%20of%20the,labor%20force%2C%20at%2021.2%25 [Accessed 15 September 2022].
- . Factsheets: Latino Students [online]. The Postsecondary National Policy Issue. Available from: https://pnpi.org/latino-students/ [Accessed 15 September 2022].