Longhorn Fiesta Fosters Family and Friends on Campus
By Cecilia Rodriguez
Reporting Texas TV
AUSTIN, Texas – The Hispanic Faculty and Staff Association (HFSA) hosted Longhorn Fiesta on Oct. 14 to celebrate the end of Hispanic Heritage Month on campus.
Entertainment, activities and treats to stimulate all the senses spread across the University of Texas Main Mall.
Selena Quintanilla’s “Como La Flor” played through loudspeakers as colorful decorations and the smell of Ropa Vieja, a traditional Cuban dish, filled the square.
The university established the event in 2020 to celebrate UT’s growing Hispanic and Latino community with authentic food, music and dancing. HFSA became the main sponsoring organization in 2021, the same year UT received a Hispanic Serving Institution designation from the United States Department of Education after meeting the requirement of a 25% or more Hispanic undergraduate student population.
“The purpose is to recognize the Hispanic community and recognize all the wonderful parts of it from the culture and the language and experiences,” HFSA Co-President Paul Cruz said.
Cruz obtained his degrees from UT. When he was a student, events and opportunities like Longhorn Fiesta were rare.
Since HFSA took over, the organization made it a mission to live up to its motto, “Somos la familia” – which translates to “we are family” – by sponsoring more events to help students feel connected and find a sense of belonging.
“I am Mexican-American and today is my birthday, and I wanted to feel more at home, more with like a family,” freshman anthropology student Issa Correa said.
Correa said events like Longhorn Fiesta advance UT in the right direction by encouraging diversity and inclusion on campus. She hopes events celebrating other cultures become frequent on campus.
Sophomore neuroscience student Paola Mendoza said efforts like Longhorn Fiesta honor different cultures and representation on campus.
“[UT is letting] their students know they are thinking about them, they care about them and, you know, just show demographics of Texas and its student population,” Mendoza said.
For freshman advertising major Nia Franzua, Longhorn Fiesta provided an opportunity to celebrate her heritage.
“I am of Hispanic descent, so it is important for me to show up to any event that I can that is in relation to any Hispanic or Latino affairs on campus. That’s really important to me,” Franzua said.
Hispanic and Latino students make up the largest minority group on campus, totaling almost 28% of the student population – a figure prospective students may pay close attention to when making college decisions.
“It’s also important to show incoming students that there’s a place and there’s a home for their culture on campus,” Franzua said.