New York Institute of Technology Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month
September 16, 2019
Pictured from left: Victoria Mercado, Frank Rivera, Diana Gonzalez, Andrehyu Rosas-Allen, and Diana Moronta.
Hispanic Heritage Month began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1988, under President Ronald Reagan, the week-long celebration was extended to cover a 30-day period—from September 15 through October 15. And on August 17, 1988, it was enacted into law.
New York Institute of Technology celebrates the Hispanic members of our community who are doing great things in their academic and professional careers as well as cultural communities.
The Box sat down with five faculty, staff, and students.
Diana Moronta , librarian and member of the New York Tech Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) taskforce
According to Moronta, being a librarian is more than just checking out books. “Some librarians focus on teaching people research, others with analyzing film and media, and others with managing the library,” she says. Moronta, who was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, uses her heritage and passion for literature and information as an opportunity to approach her work from a place of love and appreciation for different narratives and stories. “It’s a responsibility and privilege to provide access to information and create collections and resources that are culturally responsive to the Latinx community at New York Tech,” she says.
When she isn’t in the library, Moronta works with REFORMA The National Association to Promote Library & Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking. Moronta is so passionate about her career that she encourages others to follow in her footsteps. “Latinx make up four percent of librarians in the United States, and lack of representation is a huge challenge. So, let’s chat!”
Need a book recommendation? Moronta suggests A People’s Future of the United States by Victor La Valle and John Joseph Adams.
Andrehyu Rosas-Allen, sophomore majoring in communication and media production, president, Student Government Association (SGA), New York City campus
“To me, Latinx is a beautiful patchwork quilt that pieces together the intricacies of generations of culture,” says Rosas-Allen. “It’s my guide to my family’s past and roadmap for my future. It inspires me to always be the best that I can be.”
As a Peruvian-American and first-generation college student, Rosas-Allen doesn’t take the opportunities afforded to him lightly. “Every time I’m given an assignment or opportunity to participate in research, I give it my all in any way I can.”
In his two years at New York Tech, Rosas-Allen has held various positions in addition to his role as SGA president, including president of the Biomedical Engineering Society, vice president of programming for the Student Programming Association, and orientation leader.
Rosas-Allen looks to the future with hope. “I would love to go into the arts in some way. My passion is film and media. It would be a dream come true to become a filmmaker,” he says.
Being a Salvadoran American has impacted every aspect of Gonzalez’s life. She thanks her parents and grandparents for teaching her about culture and sacrifice. “I understand why they endured certain struggles to give their future generations a better life,” she says.
When she isn’t in the lab, Gonzalez works as a mentor for Felion Youth Alternatives, where she is building education programs for those in the Latin community who are less fortunate. “I understand the struggles and lack of education which make it difficult to make and earn a living,” she says.
According to Gonzalez, it can be a challenge to be a woman in a male-dominated industry. But she wouldn’t trade it for the world. “The best thing about being a Latinx woman in tech is the ability to inspire and serve as an example. I enjoy breaking those barriers, because they should have never existed in the first place.”
Rivera credits his culture and heritage for being able to empathize with students from all walks of life. “Being Puerto Rican is a bit tricky at times,” he says. “While Puerto Ricans are American citizens, their history, heritage, and traditions are not necessarily the same as other Americans. Not to mention most Puerto Ricans speak Spanish as their primary language.”
Growing up, those differences often caused tensions. Rivera encountered people who judged him based on cultural stereotypes. In hindsight, Rivera says those experiences taught him valuable lessons on how to treat people.
When he’s not advocating for the veteran community, Rivera makes time to serve his cultural community. “After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, I worked with several organizations, including the Puerto Rico Action Board (PRAB), to send supplies to the island, as well as to use our military contacts to send supplies at no cost.” Victoria Mercado, senior majoring in
interdisciplinary studies, member of the women’s basketball team
Since the seventh grade, Victoria Mercado has loved basketball. She grew up watching basketball mixtapes featuring former NBA player Allen Iverson or the Boston Celtics, learning how to up her game. When asked which Hispanic athletes she admires, she says there aren’t any she admires. “There aren’t any Hispanic basketball players or athletes that I look up to,” she says. “I always felt like I wanted to be unique in my sport.”
Growing up in a Puerto Rican and Cuban household, Mercado has always been proud of who she is. This sense of pride encouraged her to get involved with cultural programs in her community like the Student Organization of Latinos. As a member of this group, Mercado helps organize food drives, students with their homework, and students coming from Latin American countries get acclimated in the United States. “I’ve always loved helping others and bringing out the best in people. So if there is any way I can help, I’m the first one there.”
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