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Saint Peter’s Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

As a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) for more than 20 years, Saint Peter’s University had a lot to celebrate during Hispanic Heritage Month.

This year’s celebration was even more significant because the University was awarded a nearly $4.8 million Title III Part F STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) grant for Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) from the U.S. Department of Education. The grant is the largest in University history and was awarded for a project titled STEM-PODER (to be able to), which follows the success of the $3.8M SURGE grant, awarded in 2016, that led to increases in the number of Hispanic students attaining degrees in STEM at Saint Peter’s.

In addition to the grant announcement, events were held throughout the month by a variety of offices and departments on campus.

Panelists and audience members at Latinas in the Legislature on October 14.

The Guarini Institute for Government and Leadership hosted the event Latinas in the Legislature, which was a panel discussion featuring State Senator Nellie Pou, Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro and Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez. Nearly 90 students and faculty gathered in The Duncan Family Sky Room on October 14 to hear from these three amazing Latinas serving in the New Jersey State Legislature. The women lawmakers discussed their journeys to running, winning and serving in elected office as well as their fight to allow undocumented immigrants to receive driver’s licenses and pay in-state tuition at colleges and universities.

“Senator Pou and Assemblywomen Jimenez and Chaparro were inspirational,” said Ginger Gold Schnitzer, executive director for the Guaraini Institute for Government and Leadership. “Their personal stories, passion and intelligence remind us that we are better for having Latina voices in our legislature. At the Guarini Institute we believe that ‘if you see it, you can be it.’ We hope this program will energize our students to take their place at the table. Our future depends on it.”

The Departments of Political Science, Social Justice, Latin American and Latino Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies, along with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, hosted a conversation with Johanna Fernandez, renowned author of The Young Lords: A Radical History. The book explores the history of the Young Lords, a Chicago based group of working-class Puerto Rican youths who began as a street gang, but became a civil rights organization.

Pictured from left: Mary Kate Naatus, Ph.D., KPMG dean of the Frank J. Guarini School of Business; Carlos A. Medina, Esq. H ’21, president and CEO of the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce ; Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D., president of Saint Peter’s University; and Leah Leto, vice president for advancement and external affairs.

Carlos A. Medina, Esq. H ’21, president and CEO of the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (SHCCNJ), was also invited to campus to meet with University leaders to explore ways in which the University could collaborate with the Chamber. Medina spent the afternoon on campus with Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D., president of Saint Peter’s University; Leah Leto, vice president for advancement and external affairs; and Mary Kate Naatus, Ph.D., KPMG dean of the Frank J. Guarini School of Business.

“We are so excited to collaborate with Carlos and the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on initiatives that help to advance the growing Latino business population in our state and also provide learning and career opportunities for our Saint Peter’s students,” said Dr. Naatus.

The University also celebrated Hispanic-Serving Institutions Week during Hispanic Heritage Month with a week-long social media campaign highlighting what it means for the University to be a HSI.

“In honor of our 150th anniversary of providing Opportunity for Generations, we celebrate HSI Week and our commitment to being a welcoming and inclusive campus in a special way,” said Dr. Cornacchia in a social media post. “Our Latino students and alumni contribute to the rich diversity of the Saint Peter’s community. We are proud of our history, our HSI status and our success in serving and supporting Latino students to achieve their dreams and thrive.”