BOZEMAN, Mont. - Montana State is kicking off their National Hispanic Heritage Month celebration with a reception tonight led by MSU President Waded Cruzado at 5:30 in Norm Asbjornson Hall.

The event includes food and beverages prepared by Claudia’s Mesa and MSU executive chef Jill Flores, a Munayki Peruvian folk dance performance, and music. 

This starts MSU Hispanic Heritage Month events and included an October 12 panel discussion exploring community and connection in the Gallatin Valley. On October 24 they will host an evening of salsa dance and leadership lessons by the MSU Leadership Institute film. The month will also feature showings at the Procrastinator Theater, displays and resources at the MSU library and featured foods in the campus dining halls.  

 This is the first year Montana State has had an official celebration of events for National Hispanic Heritage Month. It is organized by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion as well as 12 dedicated hispanic students who have been putting in work for this since last spring. Ariel Donohue, Senior Diversity and Inclusion Officer says these students are very excited to host the events and be able to share their culture with the community. Another goal while sharing their culture is to dispel misconceptions they hear often as Hispanic and Latino members of the community and provide education and awareness around certain topics. 

"Ideally in education we have different perspectives and experiences that enrich our learning opportunities and that's what we're trying to celebrate," said Donohue.

Last year Montana State saw their largest enrollment of Hispanic and Latino students ever, with a total of 876. This also reflects in the community of Bozeman as well where the population has steadily risen over the last decade or so. There is a long history in Montana of laying railroad tracks, harvesting flathead cherries and sugar beets. Donohue also said that these kind of events are important because the contributions of the Hispanic and Latino populations to the state of Montana are often overlooked. 

"There is a great history of economic contributions and labor contributions of Hispanic and Latinos in the community that are often unrecognized in the history of the state of Montana," said Donohue. 

National Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes the history and heritage of citizens who trace their roots to Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean, and South and Central America. It also commemorates the anniversary of independence for many countries, including Chili, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Mexico, according to the National Hispanic Heritage Month website. 

For more information on the events visit here.

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