Penn State campus events celebrate, honor National Hispanic Heritage Month

Themed 'Nuestra Comunidad Latina: Celebrating a Thriving Community,' events at the University's campuses begin mid-September and continue all through October
Members of a band hold instruments while standing around a black car

The musicians of Las Cafeteras — Jose Cano, Denise Carlos, David Flores, Hector Flores, Daniel French, and Leah Gallegos — fashion a patchwork quilt of “urgent, relevant music” with infectious live performances. Las Cafeteras will present a performance at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 10, in Eisenhower Auditorium at University Park.

Credit: Provided by Center for the Performing Arts

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — From mid-September through the end of October, Penn State units at campuses across the commonwealth will be holding events in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated annually from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 as a time to honor and celebrate the historic background, culture, heritage and many influences of the Hispanic and Latine community throughout the years.

The unifying theme for this year’s observances is “Nuestra Comunidad Latina: Celebrating a Thriving Community," chosen by the University Park Hispanic Heritage Month organizing committee. "Nuestra Comunidad Latina" means "Our Latine Community."

In September 1968, the U.S. Congress authorized then President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim National Hispanic Heritage Week, observed during the week that included Sept. 15 and 16. The observance was expanded in 1989 by Congress to a month-long celebration, when the U.S. celebrates the culture and traditions of those who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

Sept. 15 was chosen as the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and 18, respectively.

More information about events organized by the Hispanic Heritage Committee, and a list of Latino student organizations at University Park, is available on the Hispanic Heritage Month at Penn State website. These events, and additional ones taking place at the University’s campuses across the state, are listed below. Events are scheduled as early as Sept. 12 and run through October. This list will be updated throughout the month as new events are added.

Penn State University Park

SHPE’s Hispanic Heritage Month Festival — Tuesday, Sept. 19, 5-6 p.m., Kunkle Lounge, junction of Hammond and Sackett Buildings. Join the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers in celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with live performances, dance lessons, food, a fashion show and raffles.

2023 Hispanic Heritage Month Keynote Event: Anthony Orozco: "Journalism for Our Communities: Reporting on Latina/o Pennsylvania" — Thursday, Sept 28, 6–7:15 p.m., Foster Auditorium, Pattee-Paterno Library. WITF multimedia journalist Antony Orozco will share his experiences as a Latina/o community reporter in Central Pennsylvania and will discuss the importance of community building.

2023 Hispanic Heritage Month Cultural Night — Friday, Sept. 29, 6–9 p.m., Heritage Hall, HUB-Robeson Center; doors open at 5:30 p.m.; dinner at 6:30 p.m. Join us for a night of celebration of the Centre County Latina/o community. Music by Crooner & Co. Latin Band, and performances by Caliente. Business casual/dinner attire, is recommended; this event is best suited for ages 10+. Free tickets are required for everyone occupying a seat for dinner; tickets will be available to be reserved starting on Sept. 15 at

Happy Valley Latino Festival — Saturday, Oct. 7, 11 a.m.–5 p.m., Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza, Fraser St., State College. At this event hosted by the Borough of State College, Downtown State College and the Happy Valley Latino Festival, celebrate Hispanic/Latine heritage with live music, arts and crafts vendors, food vendors and much more!

Hispanic Heritage Month Children’s Day — Sunday, Oct. 8, 2–4 p.m., Schlow Rentre Region Library, 211 S. Allen Street, downtown State College. Join Penn State Latinx student leaders in an afternoon of fun, arts and crafts.

"The Feast" — Monday, Oct. 9, 7-9 p.m., Heritage Hall, HUB-Robeson Center. Join the Indigenous Peoples’ Student Association, Indigenous Faculty and Staff Alliance, Hispanic Heritage Month Committee and the Center for the Performing Arts in a celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day. "The Feast" features short performances by Las Cafeteras, Haudenosaunee Elders and Caliente Dance Company. Food using indigenous recipes will be provided. The event is free, but you must register in advance to attend. 

Performance: Las Cafeteras — Tuesday, Oct. 10, 7:30 p.m., Eisenhower Auditorium. The contemporary Chicano troubadours of Las Cafeteras mix roots music with Afro-Mexican rhythms and powerful rhymes for a “uniquely Angeleno mishmash of punk, hip-hop, beat music, cumbia and rock” (Los Angeles Times). Visit Las Cafeteras online for event details, tickets, and information about a pre-event artist discussion (see below). Cost for University Park students is $5 with student ID.

Las Cafeteras Songwriting Workshop — Tuesday, Oct. 10, noon-1:30 p.m., Dewey Room, Pattee Library. Denise Carlos from Las Cafeteras will present “A People’s History of Music in the United States,” a discussion about how music has long been used as a tool to fight oppression and to hope for liberation. The interactive lecture will include parts of a song at the beginning of the session as a demonstration and culminating with a light writing exercise. Attendance to the free public event will be limited to 30 people, and a light lunch will be provided. Registration is required. The event is presented in partnership with the center and Penn State Hispanic Heritage Month Committee, Penn State University Libraries and Penn State Educational Equity Equal Opportunity Planning Committee.

Las Cafeteras’ Workshops with Student Leaders — Wednesday, Oct. 11, various times. Members of Las Cafeteras will facilitate two workshops for student leaders, one on activism and one on song-writing. These are invitation-only events. Registration information will be sent to student organizations. These are in collaboration with the Center for the Performing Arts. Visit for event details.

Dolores Huerta Day of Service I: The Dr. Keiko Miwa Ross Student Farm at Penn State — Sunday, Oct. 15, 10 a.m.–1 p.m., Big Hollow Road, University Park.

Volunteers will assist in harvesting crops to provide fresh food to cook dinner for Out of the Cold Centre County guests. CATA bus tokens for the HM/HU bus loop will be provided to all registered participants. For more information about this service project, contact Borja Gutiérrez at [email protected].

Dolores Huerta Day of Service II: Abba Java and Out of the Cold — Tuesday, Oct. 17, 5:30–8 p.m., Abba Java, 229 Locust Lane.

Join chefs Lupita Rojas of Lupita’s Restaurants and Flavia Nascimento Barger of Brazilian Munchies in preparing a Mexican meal for guests of the Out of the Cold Centre County program. For more information about this service project, contact Borja Gutiérrez at [email protected].

Penn State Abington

The Walk of Immigrants with Saul FloresFriday, Sept. 15 at noon, Lubert Commons, Lares Building. Kick off Hispanic Heritage Month with nationally known speaker Saul Flores, who walked more than 5,000 miles through 10 countries to document the grueling and dangerous journey facing immigrants to the United States. He inspires students to make a positive impact on the world through servant leadership, philanthropy, and service learning. Find details at

In addition, a few events also will be held for Abington students only (sign in with your Abington credentials for details):

Penn State Berks

"Google my Business profile in Spanish"6:30–7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 12,
Berks LaunchBox, located within the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts in downtown Reading.
This event is free and open to the public but all attendees must register in advance. In this workshop presented in Spanish, attendees will learn how setting up a free Google Business Profile can help them to better connect with their customers.

"Charlas con Chocolates"3:30 p.m., Wednesdays, Sept. 13–Nov. 15, Franco Building, Room 105. This event is for Penn State Berks students, faculty and staff. Area high school Spanish classes are also welcome to attend and must register in advance by contacting Donna Chambers at [email protected]. This weekly gathering allows participants to enjoy cultural conversations and word games in Spanish while sampling chocolates of the Americas.  
Hispanic Heritage Month Opening Celebration with Javier Ávila 5 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 14, Perkins Student Center, Multipurpose Room 1. This event is free and open to the public. Attendees must register in advance by contacting Donna Chambers at [email protected]. Javier Ávila, professor of English, poet, novelist and public speaker, will deliver the keynote presentation, “The Road to Trouble,” followed by a reception. Using the power of poetry and storytelling to deliver a powerful message about unity and inclusion, he offers a close examination of the American-Latinx experience and takes the audience on a journey as he moves between cultures, navigating a world of misunderstandings and misconceptions, and providing a fascinating perspective on what it means to balance assimilation with cultural preservation.

Fiesta Latina5 p.m., Monday, Sept. 18, Perkins Student Center, Multipurpose Room 1. This event is free and open to the public. Attendees must register in advance by contacting Donna Chambers at [email protected]. An annual event celebrating Latin heritage, this year’s Fiesta Latina will feature the theme "One Language, Many Cultures." The event will include live performances and other presentations, followed by a taste of Latin cuisine.
Latino Forum9:30–11:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 13, Perkins Student Center Auditorium. This event is open to students from all Berks County high schools, as well as members of the local Latinx community. All attendees must register in advance by contacting Donna Chambers at [email protected]. During the 11th annual Latino Forum, Roy Juarez Jr. will deliver the keynote presentation, “My Bag, My Home." Juarez founded the human development company IMPACTtruth Inc. in 2005 with a dream to inspire youth and reunite families by sharing his turbulent yet inspirational life story. In 2018, Juarez published “Homeless by Choice: A Memoir of Love, Hate, and Forgiveness,” a riveting account of his decision to live homeless again – this time by choice. The keynote will be followed by opportunities to tour campus.

More information about these and other events at Penn State Berks is available here.

Penn State Brandywine

All events are open to Penn State Brandywine students, faculty and staff.

Música and Independencia: Latinx CelebrationSept. 15, noon-1:30 p.m., Student Union 114-117. Join the Latinx Club in kicking off Hispanic Heritage Month. They will be showcasing different genres of Latin American music and presenting information about independence across Latin America.   

Lotería and GamesSept. 19, 5-6:30 p.m., Student Union Parsons Hall. Come play and learn about Lotería, a traditional game found in many Latinx communities. Loteria is a bingo-style game, brought into Latin America by Spain, that has evolved throughout time and is now found in parties and family gatherings.   

Nuestras Historias: Intergenerational Trauma, Resiliency and Growth with Maria Jose Sotomayor-GiacomucciSept. 25, noon-1 p.m., Student Union 114-117. This presentation will help participants understand intergenerational trauma, identifying intergenerational, community and personal strengths. Participants will also learn about personal growth after trauma and self-care. Maria Jose will include insights of this topic from her experience working with the Latinx community. We invite you to join this experiential workshop with openness. 

Latine/Latinx – Why it Matters with Nelson Gomez-TorresOct. 3, noon-1:30 p.m., Student Union 114-117. Join Nelson Torres-Gomez, lead coordinator at GALAEI, in a thought-provoking journey of discovery as we unravel the meaning and significance behind the terms "Latinx" and "Latine." Join us for an enlightening event that delves into the evolution of language and identity within the Latin American and Latinx/Latine communities. 

Rompiendo y Perneando: Reggaetón, Hip Hop, History and Political Resistance in Puerto Rico – Carla SantamariaOct. 16, 12:15–1:30 p.m., Student Union 114-117. Explore the rich tapestry of Puerto Rico's musical history, from Reggaetón to hip hop, and discover how these genres have been intertwined with political resistance. Santamaria's insightful lecture promises to unveil the captivating blend of music, culture and activism that has shaped Puerto Rico's identity.

Penn State DuBois

"Grocery Lotería"12:15-1:15 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 10. Students will host a lotería event. Lotería is a bingo-style game popular in Mexico. Students will give a brief introduction to the history of the game, lead participants through playing the game, and will prepare trifolds or posters with information on Latinx cultures that attendees can walk around and learn from. All winners of this game will win traditional Mexican food for meals or snacks.  

Cultural Luncheon12:15-1:15 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9. Students will host a Cultural Luncheon focused on Latinx families in the United States. While participants enjoy culturally relevant food, students will give a presentation on what they are learning about Latinx families from a human development and family studies perspective.

Penn State Fayette

DIY PanPipe Workshop with Andes Manta Music – Tuesday, Sept. 19, 12:15 p.m., Williams Building, Student Center. Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with Andes Manta Music! Each participant will be provided with pre-tuned South American bamboo pipes, cording, and bamboo struts to create their own panpipe instrument. After the workshop, the musicians will teach participants how to play a traditional Andean song.  

Penn State Harrisburg

“Seeking Asylum” film preview and panel – 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Oct. 10, to be held in the Kulkarni Theater at Penn State Harrisburg and also virtually via Zoom for University Park and other virtual attendees.

The film "Seeking Asylum" bears witness to the deterrents migrants face when petitioning for asylum in the United States. According to the film, many people view entering the U.S. as the final hurdle of the migration journey, but quickly learn that once in the country, the fight has just begun. The event will show roughly 30 minutes of the film, followed by a live panel discussion and Q&A with Penn State faculty and a children's immigration attorney who is featured in the film. The film includes moderator Wanda Knight and panelists Veronica ThronsonSenel PoyrazliA. Patricia Aguilera-HermidaJuliette Tolay, Sheldon Fields and Jennifer Nagda.

The event is free and open to students, staff, faculty, alumni and the community. Pre-registration is strongly encouraged; however, walk-ins can be accommodated the day of the show. The link to registration can be accessed here. In addition, the event has been approved as a First Year Seminar event for Penn State Harrisburg students. In order to receive credit, students should sign-in at the event to verify their attendance.

International appetizers and desserts will be served in the SEC Lobby of the Kulkarni Theater immediately following the program. This event is co-sponsored by Penn State Harrisburg’s Diversity and Educational Equity Committee (DEEC) and the Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing.  

"Read 365" — Penn State Harrisburg Read 365 readers are selecting to read books celebrating Hispanic authors, illustrators and books that celebrate this month. For those interested in reading to commemorate National Hispanic Heritage month, please contact Alyson Garland, Diversity and Educational Equity Committee project lead at [email protected].  

Penn State Lehigh Valley

Wall of Honor 12:15–1:15 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, Center Hall. Learn about historic figures of Latin origin and test your knowledge in a quiz/trivia game. Bracelets, pins and stickers with positive sayings in Spanish will be shared. The display will remain for one week.

Kev Ohm performance — 12:15–1:15 p.m. Wed., Sept 20, Nittany Station Café. Kev Ohm, a Brazilian American musician, will perform covers of songs in Spanish, Portuguese and English to celebrate and highlight different Hispanic languages and cultures.

Author Carmen Rita Wong noon, Sept. 21, Room 135. Family secrets and the lasting impact they can have on parents and children is at the heart of author and entrepreneur Carmen Rita Wong’s memoir, “Why Didn’t You Tell Me?” Wong will share stories from her own life and answer questions about her book when she visits Penn State Lehigh Valley for a free, public event. A former television personality, Wong is the co-creator and host of CNBC’s “On the Money” and advice columnist for well-known women’s magazines including Glamour, Latina, Essence, Men’s Health, and Good Housekeeping. She has also written two previous books and is founder and CEO of Malecon Productions LLC, where she develops female-focused media and entertainment.

"Let's Dance" Hispanic Dance Lessons — 12:15–1:15 p.m. Wed. Oct. 4, Room 135. Come out and learn the basics of today’s hottest Latin club-style dances, Salsa, Bachata and Merengue. "Let’s Dance" is a fun, fast and highly interactive dance class touching on the history of the dance, challenging social norms, and telling you the tips and tricks to make you the best partner possible. Dancing is great exercise and a great way to meet new people while having a blast.  A grab-and-go food item will be offered following the event.

Penn State Scranton

Musician Kev Ohm and cultural cuisine — noon, Friday, Sept. 15, in The View Cafe. Penn State Scranton's Student Organization of Latinos, along with the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office, is hosting musician Kev Ohm with free cultural cuisine provided by Metz Catering and local Mexican restaurant, El Bien Amigo. Ohm performs live music with an uplifting acoustic sound, bringing energy and positivity to every show and performs original music in English, Spanish and Portuguese. 

Penn State Shenango

Diversity Film Series: "Latinos Beyond Reel: Challenging a Media Stereotype" – 12:15 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13, Lecture Hall room 222. Penn State Shenango students, faculty and staff are invited to attend the first Diversity Film Series event of the fall 2023 semester. The documentary examines the harsh reality of Latino representation and marginalization in the media industry and its effect on Latino youth.

Penn State Wilkes-Barre

Kev Ohm performanceTuesday, Sept. 19, Student Commons stage. Kev Ohm, a Brazilian American musician, will perform covers of songs in Spanish, Portuguese and English to celebrate and highlight different Hispanic languages and cultures.

Hispanic Food Samplings Sept. 25–29, Hickory Court Cafe. Free Hispanic Food Samplings during the week in Hickory Court Cafe for students to explore cultural foods from different Hispanic countries each day.

"Let's Dance" Hispanic Dance Lessons — Friday, Oct. 6, Hayfield House Ballroom Come out and learn the basics of today’s hottest Latin club-style dances, Salsa, Bachata, and Merengue. "Let’s Dance" is a fun, fast and highly interactive dance class touching on the history of the dance, challenging social norms, and telling you the tips and tricks to make you the best partner possible. Dancing is great exercise and a great way to meet new people while having a blast. This will be three 30-minute dance classes where everyone is welcome to dance! 

Penn State York

Poster Displays — Sept. 15–Oct. 15, across campus. Posters are being displayed throughout the campus highlighting important facts and celebrations to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. The poster series is sponsored by the Penn State York Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.

"Global Eats" – Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico noon–1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21, Rosie's Café, Joe and Rosie Ruhl Student Community Center. Join us for "Global Eats," a free event designed to increase awareness and appreciation of the cultural diversity on campus. This month we are featuring food from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Organized by the Office of Global Engagement and the University Programming Board at Penn State York.

Film screening: "In the Heights" 6–9:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28, Room 114, Pullo Family Performing Arts Center (Black Box Theatre Lower Level). In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Nittany Scholars Program (NSP) and Blue & White Society at Penn State York are sponsoring a screening of "In the Heights." NSP and Blue and White students plus a family member or friend are invited to attend this event, which is sponsored by the Nittany Scholars Program and the Blue & White Society.

Andes Manta performance — 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5, Pullo Family Performing Arts Center. Free and open to the public. The four musicians of Andes Manta perform the vibrant music of the Andes on more than 40 traditional handmade instruments, including the lyrical sounds of the quena, or Andean flute, and the haunting tones of the six-foot-long panpipes. Andes Manta tours year-round appearing on major concert stages, in festivals, and numerous universities and schools. The four Lopez brothers — Fernando, Luis, Jorge, and Bolivar — learned their traditional folk music as it has been passed down for thousands of years. The event is sponsored by the Penn State York University Programming Board and Office of Global Engagement, and the Latin American Alliance of Lancaster.

Pennsylvania College of Technology

Social media informational campaignThroughout September. Penn College Student Life social media channels will offer information on National Hispanic Heritage Month. 

Educational displays – Sept. 12-13. Educational displays on National Hispanic Heritage Month will be provided in the lobbies of Dauphin Hall, the Bush Campus Center and the Hager Lifelong Education Center.