By Sophie Acebo | Reporter
Baylor’s Hispanic Student Association serves to promote diversity and inclusivity on campus while also educating the Baylor community on Hispanic culture.
Founded in 1987, their mission is “to foster an enriching experience of the Hispanic culture, heritage and traditions in the Baylor and Waco communities while empowering and supporting students with their personal development, and advocating for a diverse and inclusive environment.”
Dr. Mito Diaz-Espinoza is the associate director for Civic Learning Initiatives at Baylor and has been an adviser for HSA beginning in the spring 2019 semester.
He has been involved in the organization since 2008 when he was completing his graduate studies at Baylor as a frequent member and attendee of meetings. Diaz-Espinoza also belonged to a similar organization during his undergraduate studies at Texas A&M University, so he said it was an easy decision for him to jump on board as an official adviser.
“That was a big part of my undergraduate experience, being able to have the community and share with other people who grew up in similar backgrounds,” Diaz-Espinoza said.
Diaz-Espinoza said celebrating Hispanic heritage is something that should extend beyond the month-long observance and that it is important to celebrate all countries and cultures that encompass it.
“To me, it’s very important because we often just think of it as this monolithic group, but we’re really very, very different, so thinking about Hispanic culture is just encapsulating a very big group to me,” Diaz-Espinoza said.
Houston senior Adolfo Prieto Jr. has been an active member of HSA since his sophomore year. He served as the organization’s secretary during his junior year and is now HSA president.
Prieto decided to join HSA to find a sense of community and to meet people he could relate to.
“I just wanted to hang out with people that had the same background as me, people that you could really relate to,” Prieto said. “What really kept me going were the people I met there.”
He credits the organization as giving him the opportunity to meet students he can form lifelong relationships with, even meeting his best friend and now roommate through HSA.
When it comes to Hispanic heritage, Prieto said he loves celebrating his heritage with his family and having fun, and he wants to bring that with him to Baylor.
“I’m always with my family, always having a good time…a lot of food, a lot of dancing, a lot of laughter,” Prieto said. “Having that around you for most of your life, I knew that’s what I wanted to keep having here.”
Prieto said he is grateful that HSA has the platform to help foster a sense of community on campus.
“For us to showcase that community with other ethnicities and races for Hispanic Heritage Month really is a blessing for Hispanics,” Prieto said.
When it comes to joining their organization, Prieto stresses that it is not just for students of Hispanic heritage, but it is open to anyone interested in getting involved.
“We definitely don’t shy anybody away or turn anybody away,” Prieto said. “Anybody who is Hispanic, of course, wants to have that sense of community can join, and anybody who is not Hispanic who wants to have that community and have that education can join, too.”