Hispanic Heritage Month: Hispanic Women You Should Know About



Throughout September 15 to October 15, National Hispanic Heritage Month honors the contributions of Hispanic groups and celebrates their histories and culture. In this time, many Hispanic and Latin American countries commemorate their independence, which is why the celebrations are done in these dates. It is especially important to celebrate Hispanic heritage this year given the political tensions surrounding the Hispanic community. There are many Hispanic people that are celebrated throughout this month but here are some strong women that have made an impact in their community and have paved the way for future Hispanic generations.

  • Sonia Sotomayor

Sonia Sotomayor is a Puerto Rican Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Born in New York to Puerto Rican parents, she is the first person of Hispanic descent to hold a justice title and the third women to achieve so. She graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University and earned her J.D from Yale Law School. A very proud Nuyorican, she was very involved in Puerto Rican groups on campus and also served the board of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund.

  • Dr. Ellen Ochoa

Dr. Ellen Ochoa is an engineer and astronaut of Mexican descent and the first Hispanic director of the Johnson Space Center. She was chosen by NASA to be an astronaut and she became the first Hispanic woman to go to space in 1993. Ochoa has many schools named after her, and has received many awards such as the NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal in 1997. Additionally, Ochoa was also recognized in Hispanic Executive for her work as a director for the Johnson Space Center.

  • Sandra Cisneros

Sandra Cisneros is a critically acclaimed Mexican-American writer and a major figure in Chicana literature; she is most well known for her book The House on Mango Street. Cisneros often includes Spanish in her English works and mostly describes the struggles of chicanas in her texts. She has received awards such as a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a MacArthur fellowship, and in 2015, she was awarded a National Medal of Arts. And she has established the foundation Alfred Cisneros Del Moral and the Macondo Writers Workshop both in Texas.

  • Rigoberta Menchú

Rigoberta Menchú is a K’iche’ human rights activist from Guatemala. Throughout her life, she has fought for the rights of indigenous people from her country. After the Guatemalan Civil War took the life of some of her family members, she went into exile to Mexico at the height of the Civil War. She then narrated her book called Me llamo Rigoberta Menchú y así me nació la conciencia which made her an international figure. In 1992, she received the Nobel Peace Prize “in recognition of her work for social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples.” and 6 years later in 1998, the Prince Asturias Award. She has also become a indigenous political figure and formed her owned indigenous party in 2007. Menchú ran for President of Guatemala in 2007 and 2011.

  • Miriam Jiménez Roman

Miriam Jiménez Roman is a Puerto Rican writer, professor and head the [email protected] Forum which educates about the Afro-Latin experience. She was a Managing Editor and Editor of Centro: Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies. Jiménez has taught courses in Latin America and the Caribbean at Binghamton, Brown and Columbia universities. A number of her essays about black diaspora and afro-latin issues have been published in many scholarly journals. She was the co-editor of The [email protected] Reader: History and Culture in The United States which received an American Book Award in 2011.

These are just some of the many influential women that have impacted the Hispanic community. It is important to recognize the works of these incredible women and the many contributions they have made to their communities. I hope that this list of incredible women encourages other Hispanic people to aim high, work hard for their future, and contribute to their community. Happy National Hispanic Heritage Month!