Dr. Marisela Rosas Hemphill keynotes Hispanic Heritage Dinner
At Radford University’s annual Hispanic Heritage Month Dinner on Oct. 4, students shared inspiring testimonials of sacrifice, hard work, discipline and pride in their Hispanic roots.
Several students took the stage during the special event, titled “Shaping America’s Bright Future,” to explain the encouragement they received to embrace their heritage, overcome adversity and pursue higher education.
Josue Torres, a senior social sciences major from Woodbridge, recalled his parents struggle to emigrate from El Salvador to the United States. Along the way, they found people who helped them move forward, he said.
“The community stepped up,” Torres continued. “And I’ve found that same community here at Radford. It makes me proud.”
Miguel Edwards, a Cuban American from Roanoke, expressed appreciation for his culture, especially the language, food and dance.
“We had arroz con pollo every Sunday, and we spoke Spanish all the time,” said Edwards, a Spanish and business management major. “My culture is a part of me, a part of who I am.”
Luisa Cutting, a sophomore majoring in marketing, said her mother, of Peru, “gave me chance.”
“That’s why I’m proud to be Hispanic,” Cutting said. “My mother gave me hope and inspiration and taught me what real love is.”
Radford University First Lady Dr. Marisela Rosas Hemphill served as the event’s keynote speaker. In her inspiring address to students, Hemphill shared that she was raised in a bilingual household in Chicago with her siblings and parents, who are immigrants from Mexico.
“They were hard-working people and they built a great life for my siblings and me,” she said. “I was raised in a bi-cultural world, and many of you may understand this. It was a different world once you came home, than the one you entered once you left home. At the time, I couldn’t appreciate it. But now, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
She said her parents inspired her to be a life-long learner and to care for others. Hemphill and her two siblings graduated from college because of their parents’ influence.
Hemphill received a bachelor’s degree in International Business and Sociology from Cornell College, a master’s degree in Higher Education Administration from Iowa State University of Science and Technology and a doctorate in Student Affairs Administration and Research from The University of Iowa.
Her professional career includes prior appointments as director of Student Activities/associate director of Campus Life at Colgate University; associate dean of students at Hartwick College; and special assistant to the vice president of University Relations at Northern Illinois University. Her scholarly research has been focused on college student activism, learning outcomes and first-generation college students.
Hemphill reminded students of the importance of finding their voice while in college and looking toward each other and the university’s many resources for support and encouragement.
“These events that acknowledge culture and ethnicity, such as Hispanic Heritage Month, are a reminder of the important role in cultivating the voices of others as our own has been cultivated by important and valuable mentors and advocates,” Hemphill said. “This is also a wonderful space because it connects us and creates the opportunities for us to see each other in one another. It encourages the conversation and research to include us and to share invaluable advice in navigating college. At the end, this dinner and events of this month show us that we are not alone and that our individual greatness can be reached with the help and assistance from others.”
Radford University is celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month through Oct. 15 with a diverse mix of cultural events, sponsored by: Alpha Sigma Colony of Corazones Unidos Siempre Chi Upsilon Sigma National Latin Sorority, Inc., Sigma Delta Pi, National Collegiate Hispanic Honors Society, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, the Department of Criminal Justice and Political Science, the Women's Studies Program, School of Communication, International Education Center, The McGlothlin Foundation and Pragda Film Distributor.