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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SBU chapter.

Hispanic Heritage Month is a month that occurs to honor and celebrate the numerous contributions, varied cultures, and lengthy histories of the American Latino community. 

This month of celebration has not been one that I have taken much notice of in the past, which might be because I never had any family or friends who were of the American Latino community. I, of course, knew of this celebration but never truly knew just how much it meant to those who are part of the community and have direct ties to this month of celebration. 

Last year, in my first year of college, I met and became friends with someone who is of Mexican American culture. Joshua Cervantes is not only my best friend but also my brother, and he has become someone incredibly special to me. 

This year, throughout Hispanic Heritage Month, I have started to learn a lot more about this celebration because of him. I wanted to get more insight about this month from someone who finds it to be very personal and important to them and their culture. I decided to sit down with Josh and ask him some personal questions about his heritage and what this month means to him as a Mexican American. 

1. How is Hispanic Heritage Month important to you? In what ways?  

Josh: It is important to me because once a month we show appreciation to all the Hispanic communities, and all their hard work gets recognized. It is also the time when a lot of Hispanic communities come together to show their unique food, dances, or traditions to the entire world.

To get to be a part of such an amazing celebration is something that I am very thankful for, and being able to share my culture and express it during this month is especially important to me.

2. What has it been like growing up in a Hispanic household?  

Josh: It was complicated growing up in a Hispanic household because, at a certain age, the oldest becomes the third parent. It is not always like that; it depends on whether you grow up with both parents or not. It is different, but most of the time, like me, you only grow up with one parent, so as the oldest sibling, I had to act like a parent for my younger siblings.

It was complicated because there were many responsibilities I had to deal with at an early age. I did not have much of a childhood. But even though it was complicated, as I grew up throughout the years, I learned so much from it, and it made me the man I am today. 

3. How has your heritage shaped you?  

Josh: The way my heritage has shaped me has been through tough lessons and experiences because of my skin color. I do not have as many opportunities as others, but I have learned to earn those opportunities by outworking them and proving that I belong here and deserve the opportunities I have accomplished. 

People tend to say, “Mexicans can work hard; those are hard workers. I have never met a harder worker than a Mexican”. Mexicans are known to work harder than everyone else because we need to prove to everyone that no one is going to outwork us. And I was taught to always give my best in anything by my mother. 

She had a saying: “The days that I don’t feel like working, I should be working twice as hard.” This is a saying that has always stuck with me because losing means giving up, and I will never give up for me, my family, or my people. 

4. Are you proud of being Hispanic, especially during this month of Hispanic celebration?  

Josh: I am immensely proud to be Mexican American, especially during Hispanic Heritage Month. I see it as a chance to embrace my beautiful culture and be proud of who I am and where my family came from. 

Mexican culture is beautiful; it is much more than the tacos you eat and the tequila that you drink. Mexican culture also includes the hard workers who came here to provide for their families. The focus of Hispanic Heritage Month is on Hispanic culture’s influence and the role it has played in creating the United States of America as it is now. 

“I am proud” to be part of such an amazing culture and heritage that I can celebrate and share with others. 

It can be hard to truly understand the extent of importance that a celebration like Hispanic Heritage Month can have for people, especially for those whose cultures and heritages are directly linked to it. 

Having a month of celebration for the Hispanic community in America is something that makes people proud to be part of the Hispanic community, and it brings awareness and more significance to recognize the contributions that Hispanic Americans have brought to the United States. 

Even for the next generation of Latino/Hispanic Americans like Josh, it is a month for them to celebrate where they came from and how they can keep contributing to their heritage and be proud of their ancestors and influential Hispanics who have made a significant impact on society. 

Noella is a member of Her Campus Saint Bonaventure chapter. As a new member she looks forward to focusing on writing about health and fitness in a college student’s life, and how to navigate the world of college while engaging in a healthy mental and physical lifestyle. She also is interested in delving into writing about the experiences of a college transfer student and how to adjust to new college atmospheres, specifically at Saint Bonaventure. Noella is currently a second-year student studying Criminology and Cyber security. She transferred to Saint Bonaventure after her first semester of the first year from Medaille University where she studied Veterinary Technology. Aside from Her Campus, Noella has entered writing pieces for Scholarship awards, and has received the Journey Health System Scholarship for an essay she wrote. She is also an editor for The Laurel, a member of Criminology club, a volunteer for the SBU food pantry, and a member of Psychology club. In her free time, Noella enjoys playing basketball, videogaming, and going to the gym. She loves all things sports and has a passion for working out and staying active. She loves writing fiction stories in her free time and loves to read psychological fiction and mystery books. She also has a love for animals and grew up on a farm taking care of animals on a day-to-day basis.