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Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month

National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs September 15 to October 15, honors the cultures and contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans.

The School of Arts and Sciences marks this important month by celebrating the school’s outstanding programs, teaching and research, student achievement, and alumni accomplishment.

In 1970, Rutgers, responding to calls from students, established the Program in Puerto Rican Studies, serving notice that a new era in American higher education had begun and that Rutgers would be at the forefront of this movement. The program is now the Department of Latino and Caribbean Studies, a multi-disciplinary hub of teaching, research, and service at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

The stories below show that the bold spirit of social justice, intellectual seeking, and academic innovation that helped launch the Program in Puerto Rican Studies is fully present today, from the students who produced fresh research on New Jersey Latinos to Professor Marcy Schwartz’s inspiring “Spanish for Community Engagement” course to faculty research like Kathleen Lopez’s work on Chinese migrants who came to Cuba as indentured laborers.

There are many ways to mark National Hispanic Heritage Month. But be sure to check out the stories below and celebrate with Rutgers!

  • A Rutgers Senior’s Love for Community Pointed the Way to Medical School

    “Medicine gives me the avenue I was always looking for,” says Bryan Cabezas, the son of immigrant parents from Ecuador and a 2021 Rutgers graduate now in medical school. “Medicine is the way I can reach out to people and make lasting connections.

  • In COVID-19 Crisis, a Rutgers Faculty Member Mounts Statewide Effort to Protect People with Disabilities

    Since joining the faculty in 2013, Javier Robles has been a pioneering teacher, introducing the first undergraduate course to explore the lived experience of the disabled, and currently working to develop a minor in disability studies.

  • Finding the Route to Medical School as an Undergraduate

    “A physician should be a public servant,” says Margarita Borghini, DC'93.  “And one way to serve people is to make them aware of issues that affect their lives.”

  • Looking Back at a Student Movement that Changed Rutgers

    “In my wildest dreams I never thought I’d be part of any movement,”  says Margie Rivera. But in the late 1960s, she and her fellow Puerto Rican students at Livingston College sought support for an academic program that would focus on the study of their heritage, history, and culture. The impact of their activism endures to this day.

  • Practicing Law and Contributing to the Greater Good

    “Here I was, a second-year associate, sitting next to these accomplished professionals,” says Arianna Mouré DC’2006, and a graduate of Seton Hall Law School. Mouré was appointed by Governor Phil Murphy to New Jersey’s Joint Commission on Puerto Rico Disaster Relief.


  • Senior’s Bold Path Fused Professional School Experience with Liberal Arts Tradition

    April Lopez skillfully melded two majors: combining marketing at Rutgers Business School with Latino and Caribbean Studies. Awarded the inaugural Dra. Maria Josefa Canino Arroyo Leadership Award, named for the founder of the LCS department, Lopez served as president of UndocuRutgers, a student group working for the rights of undocumented students.

  • Latino and Caribbean Studies

    Jonelsy Gonzalez entered Rutgers with the intention of pursuing a major in criminal justice. By second semester she felt compelled to add Latino and Caribbean studies as a second major. Her teachers nourished her intellectual curiosity, encouraged her to question long-held assumptions, and stretched her knowledge of the world, including the

  • From Energetic Student to Deputy Secretary of Higher Ed

    Deputy Secretary of Higher Education in the administration of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, Diana Gonzalez, who has a B.A. and an M.A from Rutgers, works with state leaders to expand educational opportunities across New Jersey.

  • Rutgers Students Break New Ground on NJ Latino Research

    Lilia Fernández, a professor of Latino history, led a team of students who produced the Latino New Jersey History Project, a multi-media research effort that draws from census data, public archives, and interviews to provide a rich, detailed, and sometimes surprising picture of New Jersey Latinos.

  • Rutgers Graduate Mixed Activism with Academics and is Poised for Career as a Scholar

    A double major in political science and Latino and Caribbean studies, Geidy Mendez was one of 14 in the nation selected for a national political science summer program. A graduate in the Rutgers class of 2019, Mendez is now a graduate student in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Irvine.

  • Rutgers Students Get a Lasting Lesson in Community Engagement

    “I see so much interest from this generation of students in wanting to do something good,” says Marcy Schwartz, chair of Spanish and Portuguese. So in “Spanish for Community Engagement,” students explore issues such as housing, health, and education, and get a deep lesson in community aesthetics examining the murals of New Brunswick.


  • A Powerful Memoir Inspires Students to Tell Their Stories

    In a seminar, students majoring or minoring in Spanish study the memoir by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, then write their own. Professor Dámaris M. Otero-Torres saw the book as a powerful means to explore race, gender, and politics, and to inspire students to reflect on their own lives.

  • Breaking New Ground in Latino, Caribbean Studies at Rutgers

    Faculty in the Department of Latino and Hispanic Caribbean Studies are advancing their field and winning honors with books covering such disparate topics as the visionary artistic movements of early 20th century Mexico and the epic journey of Chinese Cubans. 

  • Scholars Take Fresh Look at Haiti and Dominican Republic

    The Transnational Hispaniola conference exploring the complex relationship between Haiti and the Dominican Republic took place at Rutgers in 2012. In this Q&A in the lead up to the conference, Professor Carlos Decena, the principal organizer says the conference was breaking new ground in the study of these two neighboring nations.