Washburn University honors the richness of Hispanic culture with a celebration banquet

Washburn University kicked off Hispanic Heritage month with a celebration banquet.
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 10:42 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -Washburn University kicked off Hispanic Heritage month with a celebration banquet.

“When I first came here last year I felt so alone because this campus is just majority white and I felt very isolated but seeing this banquet is really exciting because it makes me feel less alone and that I am being represented at a university level,” says Washburn Sophomore, Valeria Ortega Borunda.

Washburn University paid tribute to the richness of Hispanic culture Thursday with an authentic meal, traditional dance and a keynote address from Ernesto De La Rosa, the first Chief Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Officer for the City of Topeka.

“This celebration obviously uplifts the contributions of Latinos Hispanics not just in Topeka but in Kansas and across the nation. But more than anything we make sure that we acknowledge diversity, we include people in the work we do but also ensuring helping people belong in our community and our state,” says De La Rosa.

“We are so excited about the fact that we have our first DEI officer and he is of Hispanic heritage and Latino and we are so very proud of that. He has been very busy connecting with different groups and not just in the Latino community but minorities across the city and he is very into cultural events and very into bringing out community together so I’m very excited to work with him,” says Veronica Padilla, member of KHLAAC and MANA De Topeka.

Organizers say the banquet is all about taking time to celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of Hispanic Americans.

“It’s important that we support as many events as possible that elevate our culture, make people more aware of the wonderful values that we hold and the events that we have besides the fiesta,” says Padilla.

MANA De Topeka also awarded a $500 scholarship to one current Washburn student attending the banquet.

“It really shows other Latino and Hispanic students that they are being represented in schools and it’s really important for other students to know that it’s not just them there are others like them with similar experiences and it helps us connect and bond together,” says Ortega Borunda.